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Short but flashy fireworks show wins worldwide notice

By Alden Mahler Levine, CNN
updated 4:51 PM EST, Tue November 8, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 20-minute fireworks show is compressed into 50 seconds by a technical error
  • The residents of Oban in Argyll, Scotland, see a phenomenal show
  • The fireworks company will provide a replacement show for the Winter Festival

(CNN) -- Like their compatriots across the United Kingdom, the citizens of Oban in Argyll, Scotland, gather every year to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day.

They weren't expecting this year's celebrations to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Guy Fawkes celebrations typically involve bonfires and fireworks. Oban's residents expected a 20-minute fireworks display Saturday over the beautiful Oban Bay.

Instead, they were treated to what Argyll-Bute Councilman Roddy McCuish calls "one of the best fireworks displays they've ever seen," as hundreds of fireworks exploded before them.

A technical error had caused the entire computer-operated show to ignite at once.

McCuish then had to tell the audience their £6,000 show was over in only 50 seconds.

"I'm absolutely pleased with the reaction from the crowd," McCuish said. "Nobody asked for their money back, there was no booing, everyone just accepted that these things happen."

But the unexpected events weren't quite over. The phenomenal -- if short -- pyrotechnic display had been filmed, and in short order Oban's accident had gone viral on the internet. And Councilman McCuish had become famous.

Media from all over the world have been calling for comment on the video, and McCuish has become the spokesman for the town.

"It's the best thing that's happened to Argyll for years," he said. "The publicity has been fantastic, even if it didn't seem so at the time."

McCuish hopes that the global surge in interest in Oban will lead to tangible benefits for the local economy, as tourists discover the picturesque town called by the local tourism association "The Seafood Capital of Scotland."

A perfect time to visit, in fact, would be the Winter Festival -- featuring fireworks. On November 27, the company responsible for the Guy Fawkes display will provide a free replacement show over the bay as part of the festivities.

McCuish noted that there is already heavy media interest in the upcoming show, at which he expects "at least three times" the normal attendance.

This display, McCuish hopes, will be without incident and last the full 20 minutes. Though he added: "But perhaps some people will be coming to see if it might not be!"

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