The Target Fireworks over the Detroit River are set to begin at 10:06 p.m. Monday night in the 52nd annual celebration of friendship between the United States and Canada. ((CBC))

The riverfront in Windsor, Ont., will be the site one of the most colourful, explosive celebrations of international friendship Monday, as a fireworks display draws hundreds of thousands to line both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

The annual display of pyrotechnics high over the Detroit River began in 1959 and has become the event that unofficially marks the start of summer.

It's estimated one million people will spread out blankets, set up lawn chairs or even pitch tents along both sides of the river.

'People are real nice, and the view, looking at the skyline of Detroit ... It's just gorgeous.' —Sam Sliss

The fireworks begin at 10:06 p.m., but some die hard fans set up camp in Windsor as early as Sunday afternoon, many crossing over the border into Canada to get a prime viewing location.

"It's far cleaner and less hassle," said Sam Sliss, who has been coming from Livonia, Mich., to Windsor to watch the fireworks for 40 years.

"People are real nice, and the view, looking at the skyline of Detroit ... It's just gorgeous."

Windsor police control crowds

The Windsor Riverfront Plaza has been a popular viewing location for both Canadians and Americans, particularly since 2004, when a man opened fire on a crowd gathered at Detroit's Hart Plaza on the waterfront, wounding nine people.

In Windsor, the primary police concerns are crowd and traffic control.

Windsor police have said their commitment to provide security at the G20 summit in Toronto would not interrupt policing on fireworks night.

More than 50 Windsor officers are scheduled to depart Wednesday for a six-day stint in Toronto where they will be part of an amalgamated police force.

Fireworks celebrate friendship

The fireworks celebration began as part of the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival, meant to honour the friendship between the two nations.

The fireworks were a gift from the United States to Canada, and originally fell between the Canada Day on July 1 and Independence Day on July 4.

Over the years the date and the name of the fireworks display have changed. It's now called the Target Fireworks and this year takes place on the first day of summer.

Zambelli Fireworks Internationale will be choreographing the precise timing of more than 10,000 pyrotechnic effects.

Most of downtown is closed off to vehicles starting at 6 p.m., but all city buses are free after that time, and a free shuttle bus will carry spectators from Devonshire Mall to downtown.

The city is also encouraging people to opt for two-wheel transport, and park at Charles Clark Square.

"We're going to have people park their bikes there — no charge, no problem," said Jim Boufford from the city's cycling committee.

"Bring a lock. Wear your helmet, all the good stuff. But we ask that you have a lock so you can lock the bikes up."

Early forecasts indicate the weather will co-operate, with showers and thunderstorms not set to begin until after midnight.

But a rain date is set for Tuesday evening, just in case.