Honda Celebration of Light 2018

The story of the Green Mamba, missing cakes and not giving up.

We were invited to compete in the 2018 edition of The Honda Celebration of Light in Vancouver, Canada. The theme, Love, now many people will think this is an easy concept, but writers of love songs have made it very difficult, love songs generally do not make for great pyromusical soundtracks, so we did our own take on love. It took time but we chose some great songs and made a soundtrack worthy of a journey through love and brought up lots of emotions, the great foundation of a pyromusical. Dom and Nick designed an amazing show that literally brought tears to your eyes. So, all was good, we had our music, we had our design, product was ordered and we were ready to represent South Africa.

As many South Africans will know, the Green Mamba, our passport, is not one widely accepted around the world, we in fact have a rather difficult time travelling abroad. We applied for visas the day of receiving our flight booking from the international promoter and were shocked to see our estimated processing time would only be up about a month after the show had taken place. We tried every trick in the book and we did not fare well, our travel agent eventually stopped taking our calls as we were harassing him multiple times daily for updates and trying to speed up the process.

Dom, who is fortunate enough to have a passport from another country, simply needed $7 and 5 minutes and he was ready to go. Nick had to send his passport to Sydney and Travis and Kavs’ had been sent to Pretoria. We were scheduled to leave the Monday morning and by the Friday before, we still had nothing, no word, no passport, no visas. Travis jumped on a plane to Johannesburg and headed to the Canadian Embassy first thing Monday morning, Dom had left on his own to face Canada and represent South Africa and FFA, but we would not give up. Travis banged on the front gates, begged and pleaded and eventually the kindness of the Canadians was shown as they let him in! He explained the situation and low and behold, they processed the passport and issued his and Kavs’ visas there and then.

He quickly got hold of the promoter and informed them, but they had already cancelled the flights for him and Kavs, another hurdle, we just needed to push on. So, after 100 emails and a sleepless night, there were new flights and they were rearing to go!

When arriving at the airport, the guys were indeed excited to see that the late booking had afforded them the opportunity to fly premium as economy was fully booked, this explained why there was so much resistance to book new flights, they were four times the price!

Fast forward a 28-hour trip and we were all in Vancouver, less Nick unfortunately as he couldn’t get his visa or passport back.

Liv, our Canadian-Living in Australia-On holiday in Canada-Friend, was luckily around and got on board to assist us and take Nick’s place on the team.

We worked hard, Canadians certainly do not work by African Time, but the team from Sirius Pyrotechnics were amazing and all put in 100% effort into helping us make our show top notch.

We setup for 2 days and when all the shells were loaded and one-shots and candles mounted we went looking for the display cakes, we looked, and looked, and looked, we looked in every container, every box, every room, they hadn’t arrived!

For anyone not too familiar with the design part of a pyromusical, the shells go boom in the sky, nice and high, beautiful, pretty colors, one shots and candles are used for specific moments and precise timing, to enhance the music, catch a beat. Now, display cakes, they fill the void, all the dark space between your launching site, in this case, two 50m long barges anchored 600m from the beautiful English Bay shore and the shells in the sky, they basically complete the picture. Our picture was not complete.

We turned to Kelly from Sirius and he put us in touch with two amazing humans, they sent us a list of products they had available in their stores and we found substitutes to fill our void. These guys then loaded their truck fill and drove 12 hours, through the night to get the cakes to us in Vancouver. They arrived at 10am show day, our nerves were wrecked but it was happening. We loaded in the final bits and then double, triple and quadruple checked everything was safe and secure. The void was filled and we were happy.

Our show went off spectacularly and it was incredible, with an audience of a few hundred thousand cheering you on, it was definitely a highlight in my life.

Beside the experience of travelling to an amazing place, working with incredible people and a show I’ll remember for a lifetime, the lesson that comes out on top was not giving up, we could have stopped at so many points along the few month journey but we persisted and if it wasn’t for those simple decisions to keep going, none of that life changing journey would have happened.

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