Pyrotechnician Promises Spectacular Fourth Of July Fireworks Show At Pier 39

In preparation for a massive Fourth of July fireworks display at San Francisco’s Pier 39 Friday night, crews today are busy setting up for the show.

John Thomas, a pyrotechnician and show producer from Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, is organizing the dazzling explosive show that will involve setting off 10,000 firework devices from four barges at two Bay sites for a 20-minute show near the popular tourist area.

The show is expected to begin at 9:30 p.m., with prime viewing at Aquatic Park near Ghirardelli Square.

This morning, the 30,000 pounds of explosive materials were being moved from a staging area at Pier 50 onto the barges, which will set out near Pier 39 on Friday evening.

Thomas said in past years, the fireworks went off from near Pier 39 and the Municipal Pier near Fort Mason simultaneously, but because of safety reasons on the eroded city pier, the pyrotechnic crew cannot access that area this year.

Viewers can expect to see different firework designs shoot into the air anywhere from 100 feet to 1,100 feet.

Thomas said this year’s show includes a lot of red, white and blue effects and patriotic music accompanying the display. He said to also look out for a design that looks like an octopus.

As a longtime pyrotechnician, he said his favorite designs are the ones with long-lasting effects that linger in the sky before dissipating.

Thomas said, “I consider it paint, not explosives.”

The thousands of canisters carrying powder are set off electronically through computer-assisted technology. Thomas said his crew of 20 is working to safely put on the show and clean up afterwards.

Foggy conditions are always a concern for viewers, but Thomas said as long as the fog is not lying too low, the show should be as spectacular as planned.

According to Thomas, about four months of planning goes into creating the fireworks show, which is considered one of the biggest in the nation.

More information about the Fourth of July celebrations at Pier 39 are available at

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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