Guinness record for RAK’s ‘Largest Aerial Firework Shell’

Angel Chan

Ras Al Khaimah January 1 2018: Ras Al Khaimah and Al Marjan Island ushered in the New Year setting history with a spectacular firework display that clinched the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the ‘Largest aerial firework shell.’

Powered by 1.090 tonne (1,089.545 kg; 2,397 lbs) of fireworks, the New Year’s Eve extravaganza was attended by hundreds of thousands of visitors, including a sizeable number of international tourists, placing Ras Al Khaimah on the global map of compelling New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Designed by Phil Grucci, CEO and Creative Director, and executed by Fireworks by Grucci for Al Marjan Island and with the support of key governmental entities of Ras Al Khaimah, the event was verified by an official Adjudicator from GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, and the bid for the ‘Largest aerial firework shell’ was officially recognised. The award was presented to Eng. Abdullah Al Abdooli, Managing Director of Al Marjan Island, and Phil Grucci, CEO and Creative Director of Fireworks by Grucci.

Eng. Abdullah Al Abdooli, Managing Director of Al Marjan Island, said: “The 2018 Ras Al Khaimah New Year’s Eve Fireworks by Al Marjan Island was a spectacular success that welcomed visitors from around the world and cemented the reputation of the emirate as a must-visit destination for New Year’s Eve galas. Adding to the pride of Ras Al Khaimah and our nation, the event is a true testament to the joint efforts of various governmental entities, which ensured a safe and seamless celebration. The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the Largest aerial firework shell, a part of the celebration, brings added joy as it highlights our commitment to offer a real extravaganza for our visitors.”

This trumps the 2014 title set by the Kounosu fireworks festival in Sitama, Japan, on October 11, 2014. Compared to the 464.826 kg firecracker launched then, Ras Al Khaimah deployed over twice the amount. The largest aerial firework shell in Ras Al Khaimah reached an awe-inspiring 1,100 metres (1.1 Km; 3,600 ft) from the ground to the top-end of the display, 650 metres (2,150 ft) from the ground to the centre, and measured 1 km (3,300 ft) metres in diameter when it was launched. On a comparative note, the Kounosu record had the firecracker reaching a height of 907 metres to the top-end, 533 metres to the centre, and 748 metres in diameter.

In a fitting tribute to the UAE, the dazzling display of the 2018 Ras Al Khaimah New Year’s Eve Fireworks by Al Marjan Island – extending over a duration of 10 minutes – was set to action from 120 sites. The aerial shell had a diameter of 1,450 mm (145 cm). The shell packed 390 comet stars of size 100 mm each flowering into white, red and green, to recreate the colours of the National Flag. It took 15 seconds to reach the apex with the glittering comets changing to brilliant red tips with the centre of the flower displaying in a green shimmer.

Al Marjan Island worked with Ras Al Khaimah’s government entities including Ras Al Khaimah Public Works to create several public viewing areas across the waterfront development. More than 5,000 additional public car parking spaces were provided this year to welcome the guests.

The inspiration for the fireworks display was the natural beauty of Ras Al Khaimah and Al Marjan Island, and the show was choreographed to seven chapters, and set to global music by 14 renowned composers.

Starting with a 10-second pyrotechnical countdown to welcome the New Year, the first experience was that of a canopy of glittering chrysanthemums greeting visitors. This was followed by the four islands of the Al Marjan Islands being individually highlighted in a monochromatic colour.

What followed was a majestic transition into the colours of the UAE National Flag with glittering comets in white, red and green splashing through the night sky. A voluminous burst of golden willows concluded the session before the visual imagery of a green vine sprawling the 9 Km linear length of Al Marjan Island and giant fans of comets showering the sky in addition to aerial shells shaped as swimming fish.

The third chapter concluded with the ‘Gold Horse Tails’ effect, giving way to the fourth chapter – where aerial shells in the shape of butterflies came to life from all four islands as well as gold glitter chrysanthemums and low-level swimming comets and fish. This was symbolic of the connection of the islands with nature.

The fifth chapter displayed a series of rainbow colored arches racing from island to island even as fireworks patterns took on various hues – from red, orange, yellow, green, blue to purple, symbolizing the peace, harmony, serenity and community spirit that Ras Al Khaimah and Al Marjan Islands represent.

Next up was a scintillating white strobe scene illuminating the entire length and breadth of Al Marjan Island with matching strobe lights appearing on the roofline of the Waldorf Astoria hotel before culminating in a dazzling display of Golden Willows with green centres.

The grand finale started with a rousing canopy of silver and gold, setting the prelude to the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title bid for the Largest aerial firework shell. The dramatic fireworks were powered by the exclusive SkyEtchingTM technology of Fireworks by Grucci.

The record-setting feat, marking the launch of the 1,500 mm aerial shell, saturated the night sky in brilliant hues. Reaching its apex in 15 seconds, the shell burst into a glorious flower with the effect being a canopy of silver descending comets with the colour changing to ruby red tips. It turned the entire area into one of the brightest spots on Earth on New Year spanning an expanse of over 1 km.

Preparations for the celebration started in early 2017 with the expansive area of Al Marjan Islands serving as a perfect template for a spectacular show. While it took over 600 hours to design the show by Phil Grucci, another 70,000 man-hours went into transitioning the design with a team of 40 experts including programmers, producers, pyrotechnicians and documentarians working on the project. The firework components for the aerial shell were hand-crafted exclusively by Grucci in their factories in New York and Virginia over a two-month period

Phil Grucci said: “Our brief was to deliver a ‘Beyond a Journey’ design and to fabricate and display this amazing marvel in fireworks. The inspiration of the design was the unique natural resources of Ras Al Khaimah and the natural beauty and expansive space of the Al Marjan Island with a sense of celebration to welcome in the New Year 2018. We pushed the boundary to clinch the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the ‘Largest aerial fireworks display’ that contributes to the civic pride of Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE. With the event, a performance art, we wanted to highlight the feeling of harmony and peace and the excitement and celebration of what Al Marjan Island is and is set to become. We are delighted to secure this honour for Ras Al Khaimah, which takes its New Year’s Eve celebration to the next level.”

Taking cues from the natural environment, the music for the show was meandering and often speedy, signaling horizontal movement from one end to another of Al Marjan Islands. Starting with a custom countdown by Dan Mullins, the music coordinator of Fireworks by Grucci, the songs that added to the tempo of the fireworks include Race to Dakar (performed by Marvine Bounds Gordy-Benoit Pierre Grey), Barbarossa (Antti Martikainen), Sacred Warrior (Timo Paul Spekkens & Thomas Zbornik), Serpents of Vengeance (Evripides Evripidou), Desert Horizon (Ivan Anthony J. Bertolla), Arrival of the Stars (Felix Thoma), Counter Strike (Robert J Etoll), Wings of Eagles (Frederick Jason Kron), Seven Swords (Kenji Kawai), Everlasting (Two Steps from Hell), Caped Crusader (James Price) and countdown cues set to music by James Warburton and Dan Mullins.