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Big Bay Blunder: Fireworks at Pier Go Off All At Once

Big Bay Boom Fourth of July fireworks at the Imperial Beach Pier and in San Diego Bay appear to have been launched all at once. The fireworks show only lasted seconds.

Updated Thursday 10:53 p.m. to include quote from Garden State Fireworks.

Instead of a sustained Big Bay Boom fireworks show, fireworks from the Imperial Beach Pier and on barges in San Diego Bay were launched all at once Wednesday evening.

Shortly before 9 p.m., fireworks exploded in one massive shot which lasted about 30 seconds for a crowd of thousands in IB and hundreds of thousands across San Diego.

Coast Guard officials said it appeared that entire battery of explosives
on three of the four launch barges was launched at the same time, possibly
due to a "premature ignition."

"It looked like the finale... you know, right at the end they shoot off everything," said Rich Dann, a civilian Coast Guard employee at the San Diego station.

Port officials said on the agency's Twitter page that they "sincerely apologize for the technical glitch that affected Big Bay Boom. Event producers are currently investigating the cause."

More than 500,000 people were expected to line the bay for the big blast. "It took 25 minutes to get the word out" that the entire fireworks show had blown at once, said the Coast Guard's Dann.

"On the water, there were people on the radio venting," he told City News Service. "A lot of people were unhappy, some had been here all day."

New Jersey fireworks company Garden State Fireworks was in charge of fireworks in Imperial Beach but were not available for comment following the abruptly ended show.

According to U-T San Diego, Garden State Fireworks co-owner August Santore said: “We’re a proud company and we’ll do whatever we need to do, come back and do another show and not charge for it.” No date was specified.

Within 30 minutes, boos began to spread through parts of the crowd and people began to head home.

Napoleon Steele came down to IB from Escondido to see the fireworks and go to a barbecue at a friend’s place. Fireworks on The Mall in Washington, D.C. were the best he said he has ever seen, and he was anxious to see what IB had to offer.

“The beginning was the best. It was amazing,” he said. But the middle sucked and the end sucked.”

George Rodriguez typically walks from his place on 5th Street to see the fireworks and remembers when they were a part of the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.

“That happens,” he said. “It’s a technical world, and in a technical world you have technical difficulties.”

Kathrin Koblinger and her friend Anna-Maria Burges were disappointed. Burges came all the way from Austria to witness an American Fourth of July fireworks show.

“We just wanted to see the fireworks,” Koblinger said.

The fate of Fourth of July fireworks in the future in IB is still not clear. Last month , the City of Imperial Beach City Council voted to postpone a decision on whether to fund Fourth of July fireworks next year.

Months prior to a final vote, city staff recommended slashing the $30,000 cost of the show.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Nancyib July 05, 2012 at 06:32 AM
It was an amazing show. How sad for everyone that there was a hitch in the show.
Marcus Boyd July 05, 2012 at 06:38 AM
The city council voted to cancel future fireworks in IB, but karma got to the city council first! Tonight was cancellation karma!
Victoria Knox July 05, 2012 at 06:57 AM
I don't believe for a second that the fireworks went off all at once. The amount of fireworks that went off was equivalent to an opening set--not 20 minutes worth of firework entertainment. Had so many fireworks gone off, even if there was a short delay between the firing of each firework, the sound would have been deafening.
Seussi Bright July 05, 2012 at 07:44 AM
The sound WAS deafening.. I was right under it. I'm under the belief that something else is going on here but I highly doubt the city could get a refund on these fireworks.. so.. yea..
Mike July 05, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Oh no! A fireworks conspiracy! ...give me a break.
Pat P July 05, 2012 at 12:56 PM
The sound WAS deafening, and shook my entire house for at least 15 seconds. I am on California, south of IB Blvd. It was obvious to me (and my neighbors) that they all went off at once. If I hadn't expected fireworks, I would have been sure it was an earthquake.
Mark July 05, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Garden City Fireworks needs to immediately fully refund every dime. Their fault, their problem, their computer glitch. Anything less would be an insult, and if they don't do this, then a civil lawsuit asking for punitive damages should be brought fourth. I get a mistake occurred. Not a good moment for anyone. Character says give back the money you took for the show you did not provide. With that said, happy birthday America.
Jon Hall July 05, 2012 at 01:49 PM
On a lighter note --- how about that Pedi-Cab roaming 1st Street --- very neat ...
Melissa July 05, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Just bring back sandcastles ..... with/ fireworks
Shorebird July 05, 2012 at 02:45 PM
in an eplosion of that magnitude I am thankful no one apparently was injured. I am on 7th st at the salt ponds. Yes, it shook my house.
Karan Fitch July 05, 2012 at 02:49 PM
What a great sedgway to bringing back SandCastles with Fireworks.. ... and our Parade. What the heck - are we a small commuity witth heart.. or not? There has to be a way..
barbara July 05, 2012 at 04:30 PM
If I understand correctly, it's not so much IB as the Port Authority that does the fireworks display (IB and downtown SD are all synchronized). Does IB pay the Port Authority for the fireworks display? I'm sure the Port Authority will be pushing for answers/refunds! I like having the fireworks here--it draws the whole town together, it's not as crazy to get in/out as say, Coronado or downtown. It's an easy distance to travel and most of all, it benefits local merchants. People can enjoy the beach and stay for fireworks rather than having to pick up and go elsewhere--or not come in at all. Without Sandcastle, the local businesses really need a "draw" like the 4th of July and fireworks.
Ruth July 05, 2012 at 04:32 PM
It was an experience....all at once! we are not going to see this again in a lot of years! We can say....we were there!!!! Even though we were dissapointed in a way, I'm glad no one was injured. We still have our Independence! We were with our families and safe. Something that one day we can still say...I was there !!! It was all at once!!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!
R July 05, 2012 at 04:57 PM
It was so upsetting to see I came all the way from Texas to see the show and was at the beach all day! We were all upset!!!
Mitchell D. McKay July 05, 2012 at 05:32 PM
There also appeared to be some fire burning on the Imperial Beach Pier near the Lifeguard Tower as well...and it was quite some time before any of the Garden City technicians could safely make their way out with a fire extinguisher to check it out....hopefully the Pier was not damaged by this massive (albeit festive) fireworks display...otherwise, more than a refund is in order...
Hazel F. Bailey July 05, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Well at least you all got to see it. I live on the beach and I had gone into the back bedroom to change my shirt and by the time I got back it was over!! Bummer.
Lee DeLay July 05, 2012 at 06:33 PM
I agree Victoria, that was not a whole show. There would have been fireworks that go much higher than that display. Those that did go off seemed to be a bunch of filler fireworks, nothing unique.
Daryl Jones July 05, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I live right across the street from the pier, and i was on my way up to our deck when the noise blasted our condo. By the time I got to the deck, it was over! I agree that every cent should be refunded to the city.
Kathy Pearlman July 05, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I think that the city should end fireworks. This should teach them a lesson. Even if they do get a refund, or another show, they should give it up. Too much money for a few minutes of explosions...
lando July 05, 2012 at 08:07 PM
it sounded and felt like a bombing raid! my house shook and the windows rattled..i actually thought the pier had blown up by the sound and sight of it! my dog was scared too! who's gonna pay for her therapy :p
Shawn Pearson July 05, 2012 at 08:10 PM
The event has been renamed, "The San Diego Charges".
Dave Nelson July 05, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Ruth has the right idea. Ruth 9:32 am on Thursday, July 5, 2012 It was an experience....all at once! we are not going to see this again in a lot of years! We can say....we were there!!!! Even though we were dissapointed in a way, I'm glad no one was injured. We still have our Independence! We were with our families and safe. Something that one day we can still say...I was there !!! It was all at once!!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Erika Hernandez July 05, 2012 at 09:04 PM
If you were not there you can not say that it did not happen. You honestly had to be there to believe it. I was there right next to the pier in the most perfect spot just to be able to see the show. Instead it was more of an explosion which was more than DEAFENING!! .. My heart continuted to beat rapidly long after it was over. I agree that it was an experience that most likely won't happen again or at least not anytime soon and at least we can say we were there to witness it. However the disappointing part is that it was over so soon and we couldn't even enjoy the fireworks that did go off since there was more smoke than anything.
Nancyib July 05, 2012 at 11:02 PM
The sound WAS defening and the vibration unbelievable! It was a finale on steroids.
Mike G July 05, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Why not a fifth or a fourteenth of July fireworks show? Loved George's comment in the article. Shit happens folks. I rode my bike to the beach for the show and even with the mishap still had a great time just hanging out with the peeps. It's still summer in SOCAL and you can't beat that! PEACE.
David July 06, 2012 at 02:22 AM
A lot of people didn't even see the 30 second flash because they were stuck in traffic trying to find a parking place. What's up with marking entire streets "no parking" when it's needed most? Can you spell brain-dead politician? Imperial Beach has very limited traffic capacity in and out of the city. They should have provided remote parking and free shuttles to and from. And bring back the sandcastle competition. I know it costs a few bucks to put on a show, but surely there are corporate sponsors willing to pony up the cash for some goodwill once a year. I hate the "we can't" attitude of the politicians around here. Where there's a will, there's a way.
John Galt July 06, 2012 at 07:21 PM
David - Who is they? Free shuttles cost money and since this is an expense that the city cannot afford. The marking up of whole streets with no parking is so Fire Trucks, Police Cars and such can safely get through the area. I don't like the parking situation, but it is what we have. A lot of people park at the high school and walk. Not very far to walk down Elm or IB Blvd. As for San Castles; very sad to lose it. Understandably the volunteers decided they did not want to put on the event this year. The cost of law enforcement grew well out of hand and the money raised could not support the event. Primary sponsors could not be found. I do not know the budget; but likely well in excess of $150,000.

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