The event, titled “Fireflies,” lasted only 20 minutes but generated a feel-good response. At its conclusion, the crowd flooded the street to congratulate the drivers and take selfies with the funky decorated vehicles.
“Even if you weren’t expecting to enjoy it, it was just so charming and it made you laugh,” said Lauren Raske, 31, an event planner who came out to view the event. She said she particularly enjoyed the quirkiness of the Chinese lanterns, which included traditional stars and spheres as well as aliens and U.F.O.s, movie cameras and high-heeled shoes, pandas and roosters, even a Yellow Submarine.
“It’s a nighttime activity and the mystique of the evening makes it a little romantic,” said Nicole Dugan, a physical therapist who brought her daughter and a group of friends with her. “Even on this small scale, it was really spectacular.”
Mr. Cai, who has lived and worked in the United States since the 1990s, is internationally renowned for his highly creative fireworks displays. His pyrotechnic artworks included a series of 29 giant “footprints” in the sky for the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. In 2009, he was commissioned locally, by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to create “Fallen Blossoms,” a 60-second series of controlled explosions on the museum’s terrace. (The blossom pattern, signifying the passing of time, was a tribute to the museum’s late director, Anne D’Harnoncourt.)
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