French fireworks dazzle tens of thousands in Da Nang

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France won the third Da Nang International Fireworks Contest Sunday as their rockets over the Han River told the story the dragon and the fairy, the two lovers who gave birth to Vietnamese people.

According to the legend, the dragon and the fairy met each other in the clouds and fell in love at first sight. But when the fairy was banished to earth, she became tormented, miserable and even crazy. The dragon struggled until he found a way to reunite with her, which he managed to do in Da Nang.

The Jacques Couturier Organization, which led the French fireworks team, told the story in a 20-minute performance on the last night of the two-day contest.

Tens of thousands of people including foreigners were drawn to the Han River despite a slight rain at the time.

American artists, who also performed Sunday, took second prize with love stories to a Rock "˜n roll soundtrack. The 75-year-old Pyrotecnico team performed in over 24 minutes.

Vietnam and other contestants Japan and Portugal shared the third prize. They performed on opening night Saturday, when Japanese artists mesmerized more than a hundred thousand people on the Han River.

The Japanese performance of more than 24 minutes described a night sky on the Han River. The artists created the images of dragons, a dragon laying eggs, a mountain of five elements metal, wood, water, fire and land.

Dragon was also the topic of a 30-minute performance by artists from Portugal. They told the story of how a dragon and fairy together gave birth to the two first Vietnamese people many thousands of years ago.

Vietnam closed the opening night with several performances relating to the Han River, and its wars with foreign invaders. The hosts showed great improvement over the two previous contests, according to the organizers and the audience.

Joe Ghazzel, president of the Malaysian-owned Global 2000 Company, the festival consultant, told the audience before the performances that they will see an exciting Portugal, a mysterious Japan and a special Vietnam.

Artists from France and the US performed Sunday on the closing night of the festival.

All performances were broadcast live on Da Nang and Vietnam Television.

The contest, themed "Legend of the Han River", estimated to have cost more than US$465,000, is part of Da Nang's celebration of the city's 35th liberation anniversary.

The Da Nang International Fireworks Festival was first organized in 2008, when Canada beat Malaysia, Hong Kong and Vietnam to emerge the winner. China took the crown in 2009, when Spain, Australia, the Philippines and Vietnam were other contestants.

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