THE BIG Bang – our hugely-popular civic bonfire – is back in town at Oldham Edge on Thursday evening (November 2).
This is the sixth year we’ve put on this event and in that time it’s provided fantastic free entertainment and fun for thousands of local families.
But there’s also a very serious side to why we do it.
Reintroducing a civic bonfire and fireworks event in 2011 wasn’t just motivated by giving residents something to enjoy (great though that is!), but also by the incredible strain that the bonfire season puts on our blue light services.
There are literally countless examples of the harm that badly organised bonfires and the misuse of fireworks can lead to.
I still find it somewhat odd that for 25 days a year people can go out and buy something that can be so destructive and dangerous in the wrong hands.
There’s always genuine accidents, of course, but anti-social behaviour, illegal and badly planned bonfires and loutish behaviour with fireworks can have serious and devastating consequences.
As a cat owner (see Mitzy, pictured right) and animal lover, I also know that you don’t need to be Dr Doolittle to understand how petrified many pets are at this time of year.
These are all key reasons why we hold The Big Bang. It is part of our co-ordinated approach with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and partners on the annual Treacle campaign which aims to keep people safe from fires and injuries and nuisance.
The three-week Treacle period is the busiest time of the year for GMFRS. They responded to more than 2,000 incidents in that time last year which ranged from sheds burnt to the ground by wayward fireworks to cars being engulfed in flames by fireworks used inappropriately.
As part of Treacle there’s also now a Fireworks Amnesty which is encouraging people to give up or report dangerous fireworks.
Our firefighters are busy enough normally without this kind of extra strain – as are our A&E departments and police.
It also just makes common sense to attend The Big Bang.
Why bother spending your own money and taking risks with low-calibre fireworks in the back garden, when you can be dazzled by the best fireworks professionals in the UK setting off their high-grade ones in a stunning, totally safe and free display?
Fantastic Fireworks always perform our Oldham Edge display and they’re the UK’s double British Fireworks champions for many reasons. They never fail to deliver a dazzling show and they are at the leading edge of pyrotechnic innovation.
There’s lots more to enjoy at The Big Bang too. I know some people are tempted to just turn up for the fireworks later on, but you really will be missing out if you do.
After the site opens at 5pm you can enjoy a funfair with the kids and foodstalls before we get the stage show underway and light the bonfire at around 6pm.
We’ve got then Flame Oz headlining proceedings. They’ve now performed in more than 40 countries with an amazing ‘glow show’ of fire dancing and juggling that is breath-taking.
A new act this year is Raijin Storm who are ancient Japanese guardians that will be drumming thunderous rhythms with the audience in a brilliant interactive performance.
All this is hosted and MC’d by Elliot Eastwick from our event partners Revolution 96.2 and he will build things up until the final countdown when our prize-winner – a lucky schoolchild – pushes the button to start the fireworks display.
You can even park for nothing too as all Oldham Council-owned town centre car parks will again be free of charge from 3pm on the day.
To find out more, please visit the webpage at www.oldham.gov.uk/bonfire and plan your evening.
And finally – if you want any further information about the Treacle campaign and how to stay safe this autumn – please visit safe4autumn.com