Since 1997, the night skies over Houston have been blazing with illumination, as part of the annual Power of Houston Festival. Two years ago, the first-ever Sky Power Over Houston show took over Texas, providing North America with the largest outdoor laser and fireworks spectacular ever seen. That debut staging won a THEA award, in the category of event spectaculars, from the Themed Entertainment Association, and no doubt turned heads all over the immediate viewing area.

Last September, the same behind-the-scenes team was at it again, setting the city afire with a second Sky Power event (pictured). It took two months for producer JW Productions, and technical producer LD Systems, to ready the big show. Once more, the two Houston-based firms called on St. Louis-based Performance Pyrotechnics Associates, automated xenon searchlight maker Syncrolite of Dallas, and Los Angeles-based Laser Media Inc. for assistance.

The 20-minute extravaganza is no small undertaking: Last year, the roofs, windows, and parking lots of more than 70 building sites in downtown Houston were used to produce a unique 360-degree viewing range over the city, with 144 square blocks included in the display. More than 15 buildings housed 14 high-power lasers, plus 12 tons of fireworks, Syncrolite gear, and other automated lighting. Sky Power II used 12.5 tons of explosives, and two million watts of lighting. A total of 15 miles of dedicated cable, connected to 78 electronic controllers, helped power up the proceedings.

The same team plans to start off the world's Year 2000 celebrations with a bang on October 23. They promise that Sky Power & Beyond, as this third edition is called, will set the tone for all outdoor spectaculars to follow--indeed, city officials from Atlanta, Chicago, and Toronto were on hand last year to check out the Sky Power event for possible inspiration for their own spectacles.

JW Productions has even issued a calendar counting down to Sky Power & Beyond. (In case you're wondering, it's 264 days from February 1 until the main event.) Keep watching the skies for a show as big as Texas.