Wednesday’s AmericaFest Promises Tons of Ka-Boom

Kim Yu, of the Los Angeles Fire County Fire Department, goes over the safety precautions with the Technical Director. Pyro Technicians connect the fuses to the fireworks. Jim Souza, Rose Bowl show producer and a fourth generation pyro technician counts down for the firework test. The July 4th Rose Bowl 2018 Firework Spectacular is tested for about one minute. The July 4th Rose Bowl 2018 Firework Spectacular is tested for about one minute. The media captures the firework test for the July 4th Rose Bowl 2018 Fireworks Spectacular. Pyro technicians set up the The mortars are ready to be fired.The module that is used to fire off the fireworks is tested and ready.Hundreds mortars will be used for The July 4th Rose Bowl 2018 Firework Spectacular.Lisa Derderian from the Los Angeles County Fire Department is asked questions about Firework safety.

By EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

5:12 am | July 3, 2018


This year’s “AmericaFest” fireworks celebration at the Rose Bowl Wednesday will showcase more than enough ka-boom to make for great memories last long past the holiday itself, its master pyrotechnicians promised Monday as they test-fired displays in front local media outside the stadium.

“It’s a massively scaled fireworks show,” said Souza, who designed the show using specialized computer software. ‘There’s 120 firing modules, and [something] like 2,000 lines of code to shoot the show. It’s a pretty hard project.”

The 92nd annual show, which will feature special choreographed firework explosions timed to music, will honor JPL’s latest Mars mission as well as feature a Michael Jackson tribute along with a special tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

In addition, “American Idol” winner Maddie Poppe will make her first live performance appearance since winning the show on May 22.

TNT Freestyle Motocross will also entertain the crowd as part of the evening’s entertainment with their death-defying motorcycle stunts.

The show, planned to be the largest fireworks show in Southern California, is also the only authorized fireworks presentation in the City of Pasadena Wednesday. No other local school or park presentations are scheduled.

As Media Director Jay Geer told Pasadena Now Monday, “I think the most important thing is that with fire conditions where we are, and with the safety of fireworks, there’s no such thing as safe and sane fireworks.

“Let the professionals handle it,” said Geer. “Go to a professional show, let the professionals do it, who have been trained to fire fireworks, because we don’t want anybody getting hurt or injured or having any accidents.”

According to show producer Paul Souza of Pyro Spectaculars, the show itself is built around family celebrations and American ideals.

As Souza said Monday, “The NASA JPL presentation works really well with this sort of American ingenuity or agreeableness towards exploration, and this constant striving to better ourselves, and so it’s really kind of seamless to transition between the start of the show and being very patriotic, into a theme of exploration in general, and then just exploring space and then we come back to Earth, and then we wrap it all up with John Philip Sousa’s ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ in a traditional march.”

As Souza explained his pyrotechnic magic a little further, “We have specialized software where I play a wav file and I basically punch in where I want the fireworks to go off in the sky. I spend probably 30 hours designing the show.”

Continued Souza, “So when I download the program into a specialized computer that shoots fireworks, it has all this timing information that backtimes (the program) as to when to shoot the shell so that it bursts in the sky at the moment I want it to and I’m hitting beats the whole time.”

But the technically-minded Souza knows that the universal and historic appeal of fireworks has nothing to do with computers.

“I do it for a smile on people’s faces,” said Souza, “and that is what I like the most. At the end of the show, when tens of thousands of people are screaming and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I did that.’ And we bring smiles to people’s faces of all ages, all ethnicities, and all beliefs. People love fireworks and they love to celebrate being American, and the 4th of July is the day to do that.”

The show features a Family Fun Zone experience outside the gates beforehand.

Parking starts at noon on Wednesday, then the Fun Zine opens at 2 p.m. Field viewing reception doors open at 5 p.m., and the stadium opens to seating at 5:30 p.m. Performances start at 7:00 p.m. and the ka-booms begin at 9:00 p.m.

Tickets are priced at $15 and $30. For more, see https://www.rosebowlstadium.com/events/detail/america-fest