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.