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His fists clenched as he gazed at the sky, Qiu Chunliang, a native of Dayao, a small town in Hunan province, stood at Michelangelo Square in Florence, Italy, on a bright day in November.
Around 7 pm, a colorful cascade of fireworks burst as high as 150 meters into the air, portraying a variety of flowers inspired by Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli.
"I was both relieved and ecstatic to see that the pyrotechnical display had panned out and dazzled the audience," said Qiu, one of the masterminds behind the show.
Qiu, 34, the head of Tanghua Pyrotechnics Co, came to Italy on a mission to experiment with incorporating fireworks with art appreciation.
Born and raised in Dayao, where fireworks were believed to have been invented more than 1,400 years ago－and initially used for scaring off evil spirits－Qiu is no stranger to their sound.
After completing a program in business administration in Canada, he returned home and took over the relay from his father and grandfather, both of whom worked in local fireworks production.
"Fireworks hold a special place in my heart," he said. "The techniques aren"t rocket science but it"s challenging to create a delicate, flawless fireworks show."
In the late 1970s, Dayao began funneling products from household operations that produced cheap fireworks into sanctioned factories. The goal was twofold: curb safety hazards and increase capacity.
By 1996, the production value of the local fireworks industry reached 67 million yuan ($10 million), 21 times the pre-1978 level.
The local government made an audacious move again in the early 2000s to demolish or upgrade old fireworks factories to streamline work processes.
"It felt like wading across an unknown river at that time. There was no clear formula for large-scale fireworks production," said Zhou Senyuan, Dayao"s Party chief.
Dayao has worked out its own formula for success through the establishment of an industry development association that oversees production, trade, materials, packaging, papermaking and mechanics－a complete supply chain, Zhou said.
Dayao is now the globe"s largest distribution hub for fireworks components, supplying more than 70 percent of the world"s pyrotechnic materials, Zhou said.
The full-blown fireworks business created jobs for at least 67,000 residents in 2017 alone. Qiu said about 85 percent of the workers at his factory are local residents.
In 2001, a fireworks museum was established in Dayao, tracing the development of pyrotechnics in the town. One of the items on display is a picture taken during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), recording a moment when rows of docked cargo ships were loaded with fireworks made in Dayao. The products would be delivered across the country.
The sparkles of fireworks from Dayao have illuminated countless venues and celebrations－Hong Kong Disneyland, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics and the show in Italy.
Zhou said that, in the same way as his predecessors, he will carry on the spirit of reform and innovation to inject shots of culture and art into fireworks displays.
"There are more possibilities with pyrotechnics," he said.
Wang Xiaoyu contributed to this story.personalized memory braceletorder silicone wristbands online cheapsilicone wristbands size chartcheapest place to buy silicone wristbandsmake rubber bracelets