The following, from the NZ Herald of 19 October 1882, reminded me of the Town Hall illuminations earlier this year.
"A somewhat dangerous practice has arisen in the city which, unless stopped in some way or other, will ultimately lead to a serious accident, or possibly loss of life. A Saturday night or two back limelight representations were exhibited from the roof of a place of business in Victoria-street East. Some of these were of a comical character, but the most of them were for trade advertising purposes.
"A crowd of some 2000 persons collected in the street in a few minutes. Fortunately the street is off the Saturday night traffic, and its other end closed through improvements going on, so that the traffic inconvenience in obstructing the thoroughfare was but slight, and the safety of pedestrians to nowise endangered.
"On last Saturday night, however, a bolder step was adopted. In the very centre of Queen-street (east side) a large white screen was erected between great poles, and limelight transparencies exhibited thereon of a similar character to those above referred to. As might be expected the street at that locality was blocked up in a few minutes by an immense crowd, to the suspension of traffic."The cabmen, as is their custom frequently, when a thoroughfare is blocked, only drive the harder up and down the street, and the result was that several children and three or four old men and ladies had a narrow escape of being being driven over in their vain attempts to get out of the road. The butcher boys galloped about more recklessly than ever, seeming rather to enjoy the narrow shaves some people had of being ridden down.
"The immense white sheet flapping in the night was well calculated to startle any spirited horse coming along, and in the crowded state of the Queen-street the consequences of a bolt would have been simply lamentable.
"It is said the idea of advertising in this way is quite novel, and it is doubtful whether any city by-law covers such acts and makes them punishable but if so legal steps should be taken to put a stop to such a dangerous practice."
At least Telecom didn't use a flapping white sheet!