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Originally published January 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 2, 2008 at 9:37 AM

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Glitch mars fireworks

A corrupted computer file is to blame for the three-minute delay to last night's start of the fireworks show at the Space Needle. Two technicians had to...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A corrupted computer file is to blame for the three-minute delay to last night's start of the fireworks show at the Space Needle.

Two technicians had to press buttons to manually set off about 5,000 fireworks.

About a minute before midnight, technicians with California-based Pyro Spectaculars realized that the computer program that controlled the display was not going to work, said Mary Bacarella, a spokeswoman for the Space Needle. They rebooted twice, then decided to do the show by hand.

"It was like, well, should we go for it, or should we shut it down? And we decided to go for it," she said.

Usually, technicians press a single button to start the show, then run outside to watch it. This time, they had to manually start 1,582 "queues," the lines of computer code that control the choreographed show. The fireworks couldn't go off simultaneously as planned, so the show lasted 11 ½ minutes instead of 8 ½. The music sequence ran as scheduled, so it was not in sync with the fireworks.

The Space Needle Corp. paid Pyro Spectaculars about $110,000 for the fireworks show. Pyro Spectaculars has been doing the show for 14 years without a hitch, Bacarella said.

A run-through early Monday went off "flawlessly," a press release said.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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