There was passion — and in some quarters, panic — in the pyrotechnics New Year's Eve in Cranbrook.

There was passion in the pyrotechnics

In my view, dear people of Cranbrook, the irruption of fireworks around the city at the stroke of midnight, 2020/2021, was an unprecedented community celebration, illuminating the black winter night from the ground up, as if my neighbours and fellow Cranbrecians had been stocking up on fireworks for weeks to make this pyrotechnical statement of love and resilience and rejoicing.

On and on the fireworks went, announcing that we have come through this past swamp of a year with our spirits intact, and while we haven’t made it completely through the swamp, the end of the swamp — or is that better phrased the edges of the swamp? — is in sight.

Twenty-twenty took on a symbolic persona all of its own, more so than any other year I can think of, and while there are years where worse things happened, like, say, 1945, or 1336, I can’t think of a twelvemonth that has been anthropomorphized like the one just past — a drooling, ponderous, hulking ogre of a year, bent on turning us against each other, impoverishing us, weakening us, killing our joy, sickening us; and why, we ask, why? Because of our hubris?

Let that question remain unanswered for now, I say, but let us learn from it nonetheless. That’s what that ring of fireworks around the horizon of my neighbourhood said to me on New Year’s Eve — “So long, 2020, you shambling beast, we have come through this together, you tried but failed, because we are in this together, and we are stronger now because we came through you united in purpose and direction, and while we know that 2021 will be no picnic, as our fireworks light up the Cranbrook night, and that “pop-pop-pop” cuts through the winter air, and as we all come out onto our porches to bang pots and pans together, and as we all shout ‘Happy New Year’ to each other across the streets, in the midst of all the cacophony we can hear that joy of having weathered the collective storm.”

In my view, it really was unprecedented, a New Year celebration fraught with spontaneity and significance, the likes of which I have never seen before in my admittedly limited experience, and because of that literal and metaphorical brightening of the dark winter night, I feel so much closer to you all, dear people of Cranbrook, as if the extra effort taken to put up Christmas lights this year because of the pandemic and how our town was illuminated both literally and metaphorically — meaning from the heart, dear people of Cranbrook — signified that the New Year’s Eve fireworks were indeed a culmination of the celebration of the light that shines within us all.

But there is another view of this whole fireworks thing, and that is the view of Bowser the Hound, and I use that name to represent all of Dogdom, or rather, that province of Dogdom which we know and love here in Cranbrook; all those dogs who share our lives with us — our furry friends, our animal companions — who also have shared 2020 and all its vicissitudes with us (if not our political or economic pain, or other concerns unique to humans), in some cases more intimately than our friends or family members; even so, they have been there with us, and there for us.

But, for poor Bowser, a ring of fireworks that runs on and on for at least half an hour on New Year’s Eve is not an occasion for joy, it is an occasion for dread, or uncertainty, or a confusion that could spark panic, much like, say, a sudden bombing attack on Cranbrook from the air could spark panic in me, and make me subject to the same kinds of physical reactions — shaking, shivering, mewling, howling, cowering, seeking shelter under the bed or in the arms of a loved one, wondering if my time was up.

I was feeling pretty good about Cranbrook’s city-wide spontaneous fireworks demonstration — made even more poignant by the fact that the RDEK will be banning the sale of fireworks for the upcoming wildfire season (an aspect of the future — the 2021 wildfire season, that is — looming just over the metaphorical horizon, but we’ll cross that metaphorical bridge when we come to it). But I know this about Bowser the Hound’s reaction to the New Year’s Eve fireworks because, though I’m not a dog owner (or is that better phrased “a person owned by a dog”?) — I’m more of a cat person, and cats seem to face such portents as a fireworks display with more equanimity than dogs — several people I know posted on social media about how their dogs FREAKED OUT on New Year’s Eve because of the fireworks, and not only that but the dogs FREAKED OUT again the next night when the dear people of Cranbrook set off their left-over fireworks, and even again the NEXT night, when they set off the very last of their fireworks.

And though the knowledge that Bowser the Hound had been freaking out over the fireworks didn’t really diminish the feelings of love and solidarity I felt with you, dear people of Cranbrook, I nonetheless was, strangely, reminded of New Year’s Eve, 1942-1943, which I have read about, at the Battle of Stalingrad, when the German army was surrounded by several Russian armies, and things certainly did not bode well — for the Germans, I mean — and at the stroke of midnight all those Russians started firing guns in the air to mark the New Year, and the Germans could see, 360 degrees around them on the horizon, a fireworks display lighting up the night, and however they felt, I’m sure it wasn’t love or solidarity, but rather dread, uncertainty and confusion.

In any case, I’ve forgotten all the points I’ve set out make, except that the fireworks display in Cranbrook on New Year’s Eve lifted my heart, that I felt sorry for the dogs and I hope they recover their equilibrium, and that 2021 will surely be a year we can all meet head on. Peace.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram could be playing for Colorado when the NHL resumes play. (Rik Fedyck/file)
Cranbrook product Bowen Byram makes NHL debut with Avalanche

Highly touted prospect marks first pro game following World Junior tournament in Alberta

CNOY is a family friendly walk/fundraiser hosted by Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kootenays to help those who are hungry, homeless and hurting. Our goal is to raise at least $20,000 and we need your help! The CNOY is set for Feb. 20.
There’s a place for everyone: Coldest Night of the Year walk is back

CNOY fundraising walk to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger set for Feb. 20

1914
It happened this week in 1914

Jan. 17-23: Items compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Most Read