It may have started an hour late, but the finale of Aylesbury’s flame celebration dazzled the crowds when it finally sparked into life on Tuesday night.
The pyrotechnic and projection show started at 10.14pm, soon after the Paralympic flame had arrived in Market Square.
A spokesman for Locog, which organised the torch relay, said the torch arrived late because the Stoke Mandeville flame lighting ceremony ran behind schedule.
During the Aylesbury show the town’s crown court building was covered in images of glitter and flames.
The projections featured interviews with Paralympians – both Bucks-based and from abroad – who appeared in different windows as they shared their stories of how the games had helped them and what it meant to compete for their country.
Archive footage of Sir Ludwig Guttmann was also used.
In front of the court were eight flame projectors and ‘fire carousels’ were also dotted around Market Square.
At times the video projections made the court building appear to change shape and all of the images were timed to coincide with the release of fireworks.
The show culminated with a huge firework display and confetti being released from cannons.
Before the finale there was a drama performance called Starting Line, which told the story of Sir Ludwig Guttmann and what he achieved at Stoke Mandeville Hopsital.
The 22-minute piece featured disabled and able-bodied performers.
Artistic director Ryan Dawson Light said: “The piece is 1940s-inspired. There is also a film piece by Abigail Norris that is an intergrated part of the performance that uses historical footage that’s never been seen before of Stoke Mandeville Stadium.”
During the show, renowned disabled artist Rachel Gadsden created eight drawings, representing the spirit and vision of Paralympic athletes. The unique artworks will all be sold by Rachel at a later date.
Starting Line was performed on a specially built stage in front of the court building.
“I think the piece worked really well for the square and it gives a really intimate experience,” said Mr Dawson Light.
In Kingsbury, folk star Eliza Carthy and male vocal ensemble I Fagiolini performed a series of Welcome Songs – traditional folk songs arranged by Eliza with a connection to areas that are associated with the modern games.
The uplifting Stoke Mandeville-inspired song was called We Are All Together Again.
Between the various performances crowds cheered for everything from Sir Ludwig Guttmann himself to the five torchbearers who were due to carry the flame from Market Square. There was a little frustration in the crowd as the torch arrival time kept being put back, eventually arriving an hour later than expected.
When the torch did eventually arrive, all of the street lights and most shops lights were turned off in Market Square, with the exception of Barclays and the Britannia Building Society.
After the event finished, comments on social media websites were mixed.
Many praised the flame celebration and the ‘high quality’ of all the performances. Others, who were not able to get into Market Square after it was closed to new arrivals from about 8.20pm, criticised the event for being ‘shambolic’.
To see more pictures from the event visit this website on Friday to see a digital version of the Friday Bucks Advertiser free paper for Aylesbury.
Did you attend the event? What do you think? Did it the flame celebration do the town proud? Let us know by leaving a comment below.