Sunday, July 4, 2010

Atomic Fireworks, 1951

Back when the Bomb was as American as hot dogs and apple pie (but after the Russians had their own), Baltimore civil defense officials put on an unusual fireworks display that wowed a crowd of 25,000.

On July 4, 1951, a mock atomic bomb--complete with mushroom cloud--was exploded during an Independence Day celebration in Charm City to illustrate the significantly scaled-down effects of the weapon. A demonstration of the planned rescue efforts of civil defense and the Red Cross followed the blast (no doubt annoying the throngs of people awaiting the "conventional" fireworks show to start). News of the event made the wire services and the puckish New York Times headlined the story, "ATOMIC TOUCH FOR 4TH."


ATOMIC TOUCH FOR 4TH
25,000 in Baltmore See 'Bomb' Display at Celebration

BALTIMORE, July 4 (UP)--Some 25,000 persons at an Independence Day celebration tonight saw a mock atomic bomb exploded in a civil defense demonstration.

Before the regular fireworks display, the specially constructed firework "atom bomb" was detonated.

Smoke and flame mushroomed, two faked houses collapsed and water and gas mains burst. "Wounded" civilians tried to deal with radiation-started fires.

The civilian defense components and Red Cross workers restored order and evacuated the "wounded." Firemen doused the scene and utilities workers shut off the ruptured mains.

An announcer described effects of a real atomic blast, with a plea for volunteers in the civil-defense program.

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