Big Bay Boom

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Big Bay Boom
Big Bay Boom fireworks on July 4, 2013
GenreFireworks display
DatesJuly 4 (Independence Day)
Location(s)San Diego, California
CountryUnited States
Years active2001–2019, 2021–present
FoundedJuly 4, 2001 (2001-07-04)
Attendance≈ 500,000[1]

Big Bay Boom is an annual Independence Day fireworks display in San Diego, California. The event has been put on since 2001. It is claimed to be one of the largest annual fireworks displays in the United States.[2] It is "one of the most logistically complex displays in the world;" from 2010 through 2012 it spanned 14 miles and five locations.[3] The primary sponsor is the Port of San Diego. Since 2014 the fireworks are presented by Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, which acquired former presenter San Diego Fireworks.[4] Half a million people congregate on the shores of San Diego Bay to watch the show.[1]


For many years there has been a fireworks display over San Diego Bay from the city of Coronado, California. Sandy Purdon, a marina owner and former president of the Port Tenants Association, got the idea to do a similar but bigger fireworks show from the San Diego side of the Bay. He recruited financial support from other bayside business owners and brought the Port of San Diego on board with financial and in-kind support. The first display in 2001 involved fireworks from two barges in San Diego Bay. The event grew to involve three barges in 2004 and four barges in 2005. In 2010 the Imperial Beach pier was added as a fifth location.[5] However, in 2013 the city of Imperial Beach withdrew from participation, leaving the four Bay locations.

2020 saw the officials scrap the show caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A TV special was aired in its place.


The four barges are located in San Diego Bay adjacent to Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero, and South Embarcadero. All four locations shoot off identical, simultaneous pyrotechnics, coordinated with a patriotic sound track played over a local radio station. As of 2019, the broadcast rights are held by CHR station KHTS-FM.[6]

Purdon continues as the executive producer through a company he started for the purpose, H. P. Purdon & Co. The event is underwritten by financial contributions by many businesses and organizations. Any excess revenues are contributed to the San Diego Armed Services YMCA, a non-profit that provides services to military service members and their families at three locations in Murphy Canyon, Naval Medical Center San Diego, and Naval Base San Diego.[7]

Legal issues[edit]

Starting in 2010 the future of the fireworks show has been called into question due to threatened legal action by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, which claims that additional pollution and environmental permits are required for fireworks displays.[8] The Foundation to date has not filed any legal action against the Big Bay Boom, proceeding instead with a series of legal actions against a fireworks show in La Jolla.[9]

2012 incident[edit]

In 2012, a show presented by Garden State Fireworks went awry. On Wednesday, July 4, 2012, 7,000 fireworks,[1] intended for a 17-minute display, discharged prematurely and simultaneously from all four barges and the pier.[10] The entire cache exploded in less than a minute.[11]

The coordinated fireworks are triggered by computer, and the premature discharge was blamed on a corrupted computer file.[12] There were no injuries;[13] workers on the barges took refuge in metal shelters designed for their protection.[1] Garden State Fireworks apologized and promised to do a future show for free. The accident went viral on the internet.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d Lee, Mike; Horn, Jonathan; McDonald, Jeff (July 5, 2012). "Pyrotechnic misfire blamed on computer problems". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  2. ^ Kindelan, Kelly (July 5, 2012). "San Diego Fireworks Show Goes Up in Flames". ABC News. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  3. ^ Netburn, Deborah (July 12, 2012). "San Diego fireworks fiasco blamed on overzealous computer backup". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  4. ^ Lawrence, Bob (July 3, 2014). "Familiar fireworks company returns for San Diego's Big Bay Boom show". ABC 10 News. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Our Story". Big Bay Boom. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  6. ^ Saunders, Mike (4 July 2019). "Heading to San Diego's Big Bay Boom? Here's where to watch, parking". 10News. Scripps Media. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Armed Services YMCA San Diego". Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  8. ^ Lee, Mike (April 30, 2010). "Fighting over Fourth of July fireworks; Big Bay Boom organizers battling environmentalists over American tradition". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  9. ^ Lee, Mike. "Fireworks lawsuit lights up again in La Jolla". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  10. ^ a b Perry, Tony (July 6, 2012). "Big Bay Bust". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  11. ^ "L.A. Now". Los Angeles Times. 6 July 2012.
  12. ^ Horn, Jonathan (July 12, 2012). "July 4 fireworks fiasco solved - technically". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  13. ^ Spagat, Elliot (July 5, 2012). "San Diego fireworks malfunction in big, fast flash". AP, cited at Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.

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