Unlike any previous fair, every evening the impressive light, sound and fireworks coordinated display at the Lagoon of Nations thrilled fair visitors.
At 8:45 three engineers in the Rumanian building's turret gave the fountains in the Lagoon of Nations below a preliminary test. Mist rose from the border's 2,500 atomizer jets, and then suddenly sprays of water shot upward as various stops and valves were tested time and again. Then the whole lagoon quieted. Everything was ready.
At precisely 9:00 a carillon sounded over the loud speakers, segueing into the opening bars of a Robert Russell Bennett musical score and for the next fifteen minutes, water, fire and fireworks blended into a wondrous symphonic milieu.
Tens of thousands of Fair visitors gathered to witness this mixing of Mount Vesuvius with Niagara Falls in the nightly extravaganza that concluded each day of the fair. Presented in the Lagoon of Nations just before the Court of Peace, the spectacular outdoor attraction blended unrivaled showmanship with some of the era's greatest technological advances to wow the late evening audiences.
Before the Fair's opening, a talented creative team designed each show with the precision of a Broadway production. The regular presentations alternated around six motifs: "The Spirit of George Washington," "The Story of Three Flowers," "From Clay to Steel," "The World of the Cathedral," "The Garden of Eden" and "The Hunt." Princeton architecture professor Jean Labatut prepared a detailed sketch for each theme indicting the desired shape and color of the fountain display interspersed with suggestions for fireworks.
Labatut's transferred his preliminary ideas to famed Broadway and Hollywood composer Robert Russell Bennett who composed and arranged the original scores. John Craig, an expert pyrotechnicia who created the fireworks display for Queen Victoria's Jubilee, and Joseph Jarrus, a noted gas engineer, completed the creative process, designing the precise moments of exploding colors and patterns to fit Bennett's scores.
With the three design elements in place, technicians translated the drawings into elaborate combinations of switches, settings and dials so each evening's performance was timed exactly. Bassett Jones, the fair's lighting coordinator, designed the whole technical process at a cost of $650,000. The new instrument took a year and a half of experimental work and construction.