travel briefs.16a

Sunday, May 5, 2002

Mystery of fireworks festival in community

BREMERTON, Wash. -- Once every spring, the night sky over Kitsap County lights up in a dazzling display of pyrotechnics -- 3,800 fireworks launched from a barge somewhere between Manchester and Bainbridge Island.

It's the county's biggest fireworks show, bigger even than Silverdale's Whaling Days and Kingston's Old Fashioned Fourth Festival.

But this display is surrounded by darkness in ways the others aren't. County residents don't know who puts it on, or why.

It used to be that no one even knew when. But last year, the fire department began warning area residents to keep skittish pets inside, giving away the date.

"The reason we let people know is, even though it's a private display, it's conducted in the public domain," said Deputy Fire Marshal Scott Riddell. "People like to see it and obviously we want the public and fire and law enforcement authorities to know about it."

This year's show is at least the fifth, and was scheduled for Saturday.

France returns remains of African woman

PARIS -- Nearly two centuries after she was taken to Europe, sold to an animal trainer and exhibited naked like a circus freak, an African woman has finally regained some of her stolen dignity.

Saartjie Baartman's skeleton and bottled organs -- long stored at a French natural history museum -- were turned over to South African officials April 29 at a ceremony in Paris, the culmination of years of requests by countrymen who wanted to bring her home.

Drummers beat on marimbas and young women in face paint and African garb sang gospel songs at the ceremony at the South African embassy. Officials had draped a white wooden box containing Baartman's remains with a jewel-toned African cloth.

Thuthukile Skweyiya, South Africa's ambassador to France, said Baartman has become a symbol in her native country, "the symbol of a nation's need to confront and acknowledge its past, and of a nation's overwhelming desire to restore and reaffirm dignity and honor to all its people."

--From wire reports

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