Want to celebrate the arrival of the New Year in Paris - or most any European capital, for that matter - and still be on hand to usher in 2010 in Philadelphia?

Well that's possible this year, thanks to a change not in the law of physics but a 19-year-old tradition.

New Year's Eve fireworks will explode over the Delaware two times Thursday night - at 6 p.m. and again a midnight.

The first exhibition launches just as the Parisiennes - who are six hours ahead - are offering champagne toasts and calling out their Bonne Annees.

"They'll be two unique, full-length exhibitions and they'll be synchronized to two different soundtracks," said Laurie Heinerichs, spokeswoman for Delaware River Waterfront Corp.

The total cost of the shows will run about $200,000 and is being paid for by the DRWC.

Today, preparations were underway at the Navy Yard Business Center, where workers loaded the pyrotechnics onto barges.

The 6 p.m. show, expected to last 12 1/2 minutes and titled "An Orchestral New Year," features pyrotechnics choreographed to music ranging from Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" to Danny Elfman's theme from "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."

The midnight show takes a more contemporary approach. Titled "21st Century Rewind," the 16 minute fireworks display choreographed to 30 pop and hip-hop hits from the last decade.

Both soundtracks will fill the air from giant speaker stacks on the Great Plaza at Penns Landing and at Wiggins Park in Camden, and they will be broadcast over KYW 1060.

"It's truly a two cities, two states show," Heinerichs said.

Until this year, there had only been a midnight show on the river since the New Year's fireworks displays began in 1991.

Fireworks aficionados will be treated to several new and stunning effects, some of which have never been seen before in Philadelphia, said show producer Victor Laurenza of Pyrotecnico.

Though thousands of shells will be launched - nearly four tons of them - the centerpiece for each of the night's exhibitions will be an oversized arch mounted on a barge floating on the Delaware. From the arch, sprays of pyrotechnics will create a "rising moon effect" and dazzling waves of color and light, Laurenza promised.

"I can't wait for the people of Philadelphia to see it," Laurenza said. "People will want to get as close to the waterfront as possible. People way back in Center City aren't going to be able to see them, they only go up 100 to 200 feet."

The arch effects, Laurenza said, were instrumental in Pyrotecnico taking first prize at the 2008 International Fireworks Competition in Montreal.

The other surprise will be a number of nautical shells which will be lobbed from the barge into the river.

"They float for a while, then they go off in the water," Laurenza said. "We've used them there before on a smaller scale, but there'll be quite a few more which will create unique symmetrical shapes and color combinations."

Forecasters at the National Weather Service were calling for a light wintry mix to fall throughout the evening.

"But we're going forward rain, snow or shine," said Jodie Milkman, vice president of marketing and programing for the DRWC.

Milkman said the holiday fireworks were not only a great way to celebrate the New Year.

"They have a great economic impact for the city as well," she said.

The 2009 fireworks brought in an additional $1.76 million to the regional economy and generated $176,100 in tax revenues for the city and the state, according to a study commissioned by the Penns Landing Corporation, the DRWC's predecessor.

"They're a great value. They're free. And they're a great bookend to anyone's New Year's celebration," Milkman said.

If you want to be part of the blast - and literally have a hand in bringing in 2010 with a bang - the Battleship New Jersey also is holding an auction to fire one of the ship's five-inch gun just before midnight, launching the night's second fireworks display.

Bids to sit in the mount and pull the trigger can be placed online at www.battleshipnewjersey.cmarket.com. Proceeds will go to the preservation of the nation's World War II era battleship, moored in Camden. The highest bid placed by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday wins.

"Our friends in Philadelphia do not have to worry," said Jim Schuck, chief executive officer of the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial. "We are not using live ammo."

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com.