Pyrotechnician: SF’s July 4 Fireworks Show Will Be “really spectacular”

Crews began work Wednesday morning in San Francisco on what could be a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show or a bunch of “pink fog,” depending on the city’s famously temperamental summer weather, organizers said.

About 10,000 pounds of equipment were unloaded on the Municipal Pier, overlooking the Bay at the end of Van Ness Avenue, said Jon Erickson, a lead pyrotechnics operator for Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, the company organizing San Francisco’s fireworks show.

Related: From The SFMTA: July 4 Parking, Traffic, Transit And Street Closures

The 23-minute show scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. Thursday will feature about 4,000 fireworks devices launched from the pier, as well as a similar amount launched from a barge located in the Bay off of Fisherman’s Wharf, Erickson said.

“This is a big show,” he said.

The company, which does fireworks shows around the world, is familiar with San Francisco’s fog, having overseen the Independence Day show in the city for the past four years, Erickson said.

“Firing here, it’s always a roll of the dice,” he said while looking out on the Bay at a fogbank that had fully enveloped the Golden Gate Bridge this morning. “We call it creating pink fog.”

Erickson said fog swooped in hours before last year’s show, but a hole in the clouds opened up just before show time, allowing for good visibility of the fireworks.

Workers from the company were setting up mortar tubes of up to 10 inches in diameter along the Municipal Pier—with different color codings for the different-sized tubes—with the explosives being brought in later today and on Thursday, Erickson said.

He said this year’s show will be “really spectacular” and features new colors and fireworks combinations from previous years.

The crew will be firing the explosives remotely via electronic devices operated a short distance away from the pier, Erickson said.

At least a dozen, mostly part-time employees are working on the project, he said.

“You don’t do fireworks for the money, you do it for the thrill,” said Erickson, a Palo Alto resident who has been doing fireworks shows for about 40 years along with a full-time job he recently retired from at the athletics department of Stanford University.

“Once you see a show up close, it’s meaningless to go see a show from a half-mile away,” he said. “You need to have your second molars jiggling.”

National Park Service officials say the best locations to watch the fireworks show is along city piers rather than further west along the waterfront at Crissy Field or from across the Bay in the Marin Headlands.

As many as 200,000 people are expected to gather in the area for Fourth of July festivities, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The SFMTA will be enforcing parking meters citywide and will provide supplemental bus shuttles to the streetcar service from downtown to the waterfront Fourth of July activities at Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square and Aquatic Park.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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