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And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there
July 5, 2012 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Last night at the Big Bay Boom Firework Show in San Diego, a technical glitch caused 18 minutes of choreographed fireworks to go off in about 15 seconds (and 5 minutes premature). The results were impressive.

The company behind the show has apologized, while viewers are calling it both the best and worst fireworks show they have ever seen.
posted by 2bucksplus (67 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've had dates that have ended like this.

I apologized, too.
posted by inturnaround at 9:36 AM on July 5, 2012 [41 favorites]


I'm a big, big fan of fireworks and I have always wanted to see this happen.
posted by griphus at 9:37 AM on July 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


"Company"? Oh man, of course. I've been maintaining this tender vision, implanted from the tiny town I grew up in as a kid, that my current town's fireworks are shot off by the volunteer firefighters dropping shells into mortars. It's probably just some big heartless corporations now.
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing to see here.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:39 AM on July 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


I saw this sort of thing happen about ten years ago. There was some sort of mistake on the barge the fire department were setting them off from, and everything went off at once. The jaded old fogies from my town didn't even go "Ooh!".
posted by dunkadunc at 9:40 AM on July 5, 2012


Whee! That was really fun to watch. I would have been cackling with laughter. Especially about 20 seconds after it was over, when I'd realise what just happened. I also loved the music and people cheering. Beats people wandering around for 15 minutes, whining, angling for better views, while dogs go mad all over town.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:40 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


we heard the noise of it all last night- there was also a very big thunder-like noise about 5 seconds after the giant popcorn sound of all these fireworks....
posted by cherryflute at 9:41 AM on July 5, 2012


Consider it San Diego's unofficial preview of next week's ComicCon.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The best part about this are the photos where it looks like the top of a bald guy's head.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


That's okay, the other cities just wanted to cuddle anyway.
posted by mrbill at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's probably just some big heartless corporations now.

I think it's more along the lines of carnival companies.
posted by smackfu at 9:43 AM on July 5, 2012


Awesome.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2012


Weird, I was picturing carnies in trailers when I wrote that. Don't know where I got the idea it was HugeCorp.

Also, my town ended with sky lanterns (I think--I watch from my hard about a mile away). It was pretty cool and peaceful, while being marginally safer than fireworks, none of which seems like a carnie thing. So maybe it's still homegrown.
posted by DU at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2012


Impressive they were able to fire automatically that quickly.
posted by stbalbach at 9:46 AM on July 5, 2012


I was on the beach in cape cod last night where a bunch of maniacs apparently go every year and shoot off their home arsenals and it was kinda like this for a while as different factions dueled to see who could make the biggest booms. Good thing I was drunk or it might have been terrifying!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:46 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


"We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties." But not for HOW AWESOME IT WAS!!! WOOO-OOOOOO-OOOOO!!!!!!! \m/
posted by wenestvedt at 9:47 AM on July 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


This is what happens when the technician forgets his Viagra.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:49 AM on July 5, 2012


Potomac, I once sat on a boat in a Minnesota lake to watch a fireworks show. The owner of the house next to the show's launch site (a private club) was apparently both jealous and drunk/clumsy, as his competing fireworks all went off at treetop height in an alarmingly short span of time. It was awwwwwesome from a quarter mile away, across plenty of non-flammable water.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:50 AM on July 5, 2012


"Company"? Oh man, of course. I've been maintaining this tender vision, implanted from the tiny town I grew up in as a kid, that my current town's fireworks are shot off by the volunteer firefighters dropping shells into mortars.

My dad did that with the Jaycees shortly after returning from Vietnam. He talks about loading the firework, setting it off, instinctively dropping to the ground, and then sheepishly getting up to load the next one. This repeated itself for every round he set off.
posted by maryr at 9:52 AM on July 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


Huh? Sorry, I was just checking my email. What? It was only the first 15 seconds. Still lots of fireworks left...
posted by dry white toast at 9:53 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once attended a summer wedding at about 52N latitude, where it doesn't get properly firework-dark until quite a bit past 10pm. They wanted a fireworks display, but it needed to be short to fit in the narrow window between true darkness and 11pm, beyond which the display would be illegal (and the company providing it would refuse to go on).

It was brief and incredibly bombastic and awesome. But not quite this brief, bombastic, or awesome.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:54 AM on July 5, 2012


Nothing beats watching dudes mount rockets on their shoulders in the hood in dc and blast them at each other. Amazing/dangerous.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:55 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh son of a bitch. This might be one of the only times that I wish I had gone to see the fireworks. Still, I guess my night was exciting. Drinking, watching Thor...

SON OF A BITCH. I could have seen the Great Fireworks Catastrophe of '12 and instead I was watching that underlit orange and teal monstrosity? The universe is a cruel, uncaring place.
posted by Stunt at 9:59 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Something similar happened in my home town of Biloxi back in the late 80's. They had a huge fireworks display every 4th with the launch point being the tip of Deer Island which is a very short distance from the coastline. The show was supposed to be synched with a radio broadcast of a montage of patriotic style music. A couple of minutes into it apparently a fire started and everything went off at once. It was totally cool at the time to see it happen live but now that I think back on it I wonder if anyone was injured during it.
posted by GavinR at 10:00 AM on July 5, 2012


I blame Java.
posted by drinkcoffee at 10:02 AM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just sent this link to a friend; he's a photographer, amongst other things, and has been trying for a while now to get a shot of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel against a backdrop of fireworks. But only last night did he actually try; I tagged along ("I'll hold your camera shit while you're taking photos if you take a second to go on the Cyclone with me") and we spent a good two hours asking where the fireworks would be, ascertaining from that what the best angle would be, and then setting up the shot.

Only to discover once the fireworks started going off that the show was a) much wimpier than promised, and b) about 500 yards too far down the boardwalk. He was stoic, fortunately, but this may cheer him up some.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:02 AM on July 5, 2012


This is great. Last night we watched the fireworks and my daughter got bored and said, "they should just make them all go off at the same time." I can't wait to show her this video.
posted by brain_drain at 10:03 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't sound like it turned deadly.
posted by Mojojojo at 10:11 AM on July 5, 2012


I blame Java.
posted by drinkcoffee


Eponysterical.
posted by me3dia at 10:12 AM on July 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I feel bad for the guy that had to run to his car for another blanket that figured he'd just miss the minute or two.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:14 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the video's YouTube comments: "On the plus-side, every´╗┐ dog in the county slept poop-free last night."

My kids spent the entire night huddled in bed with me, unable to sleep because people were setting fireworks off until around 5am. Would have been nice if this same technical glitch had happened to everyone in my neighborhood...
posted by zarq at 10:14 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looking at the "impressive" link, I am reminded that we are only seven years away from 2019.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:15 AM on July 5, 2012


I live close enough to downtown SD that I can hear the fireworks from my apartment - it sounded like they were having a military jet squadron flyover or something.

Like many people in this thread, I don't understand why people quoted in the news articles are complaining. They're all saying how they found a spot and waited for the show for hours, or booked a hotel room, and it was all a waste because the show lasted 15 seconds. They should be happy they saw just about the only show that will launch that many fireworks in 15 seconds ever.
posted by LionIndex at 10:17 AM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


But only last night did he actually try...

Tell him to go any Friday at dusk when they do the real fireworks.
posted by griphus at 10:24 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Which they launch about 100' from the entrance to the beach from the promenade going from the W 8th station onto the beach. Which is also the best place to see them, although not for photos with the Cyclone in the same shot.)
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on July 5, 2012


Hey, at least it wasn't as embarrassing as what the Humans of New York photographer caught.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:26 AM on July 5, 2012


Griphus - he's actually been to Cyclones games and knows about the Friday night stuff (which may explain the stoicism; he figures he'll just come another day and try again). He admitted he may have been thrown off from always having seen the Cyclones home game fireworks from inside the stadium "and they looked pretty impressive from that perspective, so...."

Also, it's the Wonder Wheel he's trying to get rather than the Cyclone.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on July 5, 2012


I had a front row seat for this over in Coronado and it was awesome. It was so bright I had to shield my eyes and the sound was incredible. Three of the four barges malfunctioned in this way, so nearly everyone who was watching fireworks in San Diego last night got to see the spectacle.

We all sat there for a half hour afterwards thinking it was some sort of conspicuous five minute warning that would portend the greatest show ever conceived by man, but that was unfortunately not the case. I think it was way more interesting than what usually happens.
posted by Awakened at 10:30 AM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that ballpark fireworks display was anemic at best, but I guess them's the breaks when they're not shaking the ground and taking up your entire field of vision.
posted by griphus at 10:31 AM on July 5, 2012


My kids spent the entire night huddled in bed with me, unable to sleep because people were setting fireworks off until around 5am.

My kid is very sensitive to loud noises too. We finally put kid-safe headphones on her and packed her down in the back bedroom with an Ipod full of gentle music. It helped a lot -- somehow the constant presence of the music made the giant bangs less horrifying.

Which was good, because my street probably set off $1500 worth of fireworks last night.
posted by KathrynT at 10:34 AM on July 5, 2012


Has anyone found a video that actually catches the beginning?
posted by loquacious at 10:42 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fireworks are the most boring of public spectacles, lagging even behind parades. This, however, made them glorious again.
posted by painquale at 10:47 AM on July 5, 2012


My four-year-old wore Husquvarna chainsaw ear protection during our local fireworks on Tuesday, and during the parade on Wednesday. (Many, many enthusiastic Revolutionary War re-enactors, with large budgets for black powder.) It was her first terror-free Independence Day!

(Also, this year the group of "colonists," who normally march a discreet distance from the redcoat re-enactors, was right in front of them. So every block or so they stopped, did a "Totherear, MARCH!" and then fired off a volley over the "British" troops' heads. Then they turned thir backs and the "British" returned fire. I can't imagine why they waited so many years for this. It was great!)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:51 AM on July 5, 2012


I often wonder it the real allure of fireworks is mostly "Maybe something will get blown up that wasn't supposed to!" rather than what actually happens. I always held my breath as a kid, sure there would be a fire started or a sideways rocket that came twisting down towards us.

So I would have loved this.
posted by emjaybee at 10:52 AM on July 5, 2012


Awakened: We all sat there for a half hour afterwards thinking it was some sort of conspicuous five minute warning that would portend the greatest show ever conceived by man, but that was unfortunately not the case. I think it was way more interesting than what usually happens
Yeah, that's my favorite part; the thought of the people cheering like mad when this went off, who were thinking "Holy fuck, the FINALE of this is going to melt my goddamned brain right out my ears!!!!" before they realized what had happened.
posted by hincandenza at 11:06 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh god. I cry for fireworks. I have no idea how I would have handled myself in the presence of such greatness. The majesty.

Beavis voice YES! YES! YES!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:07 AM on July 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I never knew over-the-ear headphones for kids during fireworks were a thing until last night, where I saw several kids wearing them. It's a smart move.
posted by formless at 11:08 AM on July 5, 2012


I feel bad for the guy that had to run to his car for another blanket that figured he'd just miss the minute or two.

How about the guy who was going to propose to his girl during the big finale?
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:24 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was AWESOME. I wish I'd been there!

My friend who loves fireworks the most of anyone in the whole world, ever, lives in Colorado. What a cruel irony, huh? I sent him a link to the "epic fail 2012" YouTube video, because about 23 seconds into it, you can hear a little boy go, "That. Was. AWESOME!!!!", and that kid is clearly my friend's brother from another mother. Rock on, kid.

My favorite part? On one of the videos where you can see all four barges going off at once, when the kabooms fade a bit, you can still hear Queen's "We Will Rock You" playing in the background. Oh, my god, how I laughed. I laughed SO HARD.
posted by palomar at 11:28 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone found a video that actually catches the beginning?

There was a link from cnn that did.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:32 AM on July 5, 2012


Lukenlogs: "I feel bad for the guy that had to run to his car for another blanket that figured he'd just miss the minute or two.

How about the guy who was going to propose to his girl during the big finale?
"

He gets a year to think it over?
posted by Splunge at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there were any justice in the world, everyone moaning and complaining in public about this because they were actually there and who felt their time was ill-spent, would be rewarded by their 6 year old selves coming thru the massive tear in space-time caused by this awe-inspiring greatness and that younger self would then kick them in the shins, repeatedly.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:45 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something similar happened in Tulsa either last year or the year before. Apparently, it's not all that rare.
posted by wierdo at 12:44 PM on July 5, 2012


This one might top it. It takes place in Oban, Scotland for Guy Fawkes night. It's much closer up so you can see all the different fireworks happening at once and you can hear the music playing in the background. And it does start at the right time so it's particularly good that the crowd counts down to the moment of disaster. At the end if you listen closely you can hear either people boo-ing or a child crying, I still can't decide what it is, but it's really funny.
posted by like_neon at 12:48 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


like_neon, that video made me bounce a little in my seat like a small child, while nigh gripping my face in delight.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:58 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


That one last, lonely BANG of the Oban show is lovely.

Also, don't move your mouse over the video, and save yourself seeing just how short the actual detonations are. I did it, and I was....crestfallen.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:01 PM on July 5, 2012


I can see the bay from my house but apparently I went to the bathroom and missed this.
I am still upset.
posted by changeling at 1:16 PM on July 5, 2012


I feel bad for the guy that had to run to his car for another blanket that figured he'd just miss the minute or two.

It's like when I went to the 7-11 to get some water for my partner and me when we were seeing Irene Cara perform for free at a street fair, and she opened with Fame.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:09 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Today's Buttersafe puts a dramatic spin on fireworks misfires.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:12 PM on July 5, 2012


I'm currently at a small village in Guatemala, and its their patron saints festival week this week. The way they do fireworks here, is that they have two metal tubes on the sidewalk in front of the church, and an old guy just lights and drops mortars into them, with a crowd of people 10 feet away.

And it's just at random times all day and night long. I wandered into the church square a couple of days ago and almost walked right on top of the guy while he was setting them off. I keep waking up with bombs going off in the middle of the night thinking that the civil war is starting up again.

Anyway, I don't really know what my point is, but I guess I'm saying is that it could be worse.
posted by empath at 2:35 PM on July 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, fireworks shows are done by huge companies. The permitting process is massive and labyrinthine, shipping, storing, manufacturing, all that. You pretty much need the infrastructure of a large company to deal with it. Never fear, though. Those of us who actually set up the show are a pretty rag-tag bunch of weirdos.

We've been lucky enough to have a professional photographer with us on and off for the past few years. Here's some of the stuff he's shot:

The Crew 2011
The Show 2011
The Pit 2011

The Show 2010
The Crew 2010

The Crew and Show 2009

The Pit 2008
The Crew 2008
The Show 2008
posted by mollymayhem at 3:03 PM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]




Those of us who actually set up the show are a pretty rag-tag bunch of weirdos.

Clicked, expecting utilikilts. Was not disappointed!
posted by flaterik at 3:19 PM on July 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Back when I was a young teenager my small town of Colonial Beach had something similar to this happen, only better. We're on the Potomac River and the fireworks are set off from the end of the town pier.

Now, we have fireworks during the Potomac River Festival and on the 4th of July. This year the PRF fireworks were held a week late due to rain. Well, this being many years ago, the local volunteer firemen still did the fireworks show. A few minutes into the show, a mortar didn't make it more than a foot or two up, came back down, exploded and lit all the mortars left on the wooden pier on fire.

Firemen were diving off the pier, into the water, as fast as they could, I mean every where you looked there were people diving. Then the geniuses on the land, in the firetruck, decided to try and run a big ass firetruck, down a wooden pier.

Just a few feet out, the truck fell partway through the pier. So now, we have firemen in the water, fireworks still going off, part of the pier on fire, and a truck through the pier. And, people moving in closer to see it.

Now, I'm 37, and I believe I was 13 at the time. At every single fireworks display since then, someone brings up the year the firetruck went through the pier. Twice a year, for 24 years, we retell this story. The above is one of the stories that people will tell, for the next 24 years, about the "coolest, craziest" fireworks display ever!
posted by SuzySmith at 5:35 PM on July 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


(mollymahem, just to be clear: I say that with love, not derision!)
posted by flaterik at 6:37 PM on July 5, 2012


If we're sharing our fireworks fail stories, I'd like to contribute the time Atlanta almost wasn't selected as the host of the 1996 Olympics.

We were in Savannah for the Model Arab League at the same time the delegation from the International Olympic Committee was in town to evaluate the sailing venue. They planned a big party at that hotel that had the large balcony that extended over River Street. After dinner, they had arranged for the delegation to go out onto the river on Forbes' Capitalist Tool to view a fireworks display. To try and make it look like people were excited for the Olympics, they gave all the college kids in town for the M.A.L. "Atlanta 1996" t-shirts to wear and told us to be down at the river front at 9 for the fireworks.

We got down there about 20 minutes early to gawk at the yacht and see if we could see anybody famous from the I.O.C. There wound up being a couple of dozen M.A.L. kids in all. They had the display set up on barges out in the river. As my friend and I were admiring the yacht, we heard the distinctive "whoomph" of a fireworks mortar, followed by the "pop" of a firework exploding. The display had begun, but the I.O.C. people weren't even on the yacht yet.

We ran down a little ways so we could see. As we did, we saw a woman who was apparently one of the planners run out on to the balcony. We saw the look of shock and horror on her face and just started laughing. She shot us a dirty look, so we walked a little farther away so as to blend into the crowd better.

As it wasn't quite full dark, we could make out the people out on the barge lighting off the fireworks with what looked like road flares. They appeared to be a couple of Good Ol' Boys in overalls and gimmie hats. By this time the I.O.C. people have come out onto the balcony to view the obviously early fireworks show, and we just couldn't stop laughing. Somebody made a too-loud, drunken comment to the effect of it looks like Bubba and Dick Bob's watches were fast. To which someone else retorted, "Something tells me those guys's aren't wearing watches." We all laughed even louder.

The fireworks were actually pretty cool. At the end we all clapped and cheered. Evidently it was loud enough to carry across the water because at that point either Bubba or Dick Bob fired off a roman candle and then took a bow. That just brought even more gales of laughter.

As we went back past the hotel balcony, there were three patrician ladies with crossed arms and sour looks on their faces staring down at us. The I.O.C. people all seemed to be enjoying themselves though. They got on the yacht and headed out into the night for what looked like some well lubricated revelry.

Afterward, much to the majority of Metro-Atlanta's chagrin, Atlanta secured the Olympics for 1996. So the night Bubba and Dick Bob almost sunk her chances was soon forgotten by everyone except those of us who were lured to the Savannah river front with a free t-shirt and the nice ladies who arranged the whole thing and wanted to drown us know-it-all college jerks.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:29 PM on July 5, 2012


No offense taken!
posted by mollymayhem at 8:06 PM on July 5, 2012


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