Thousands head to waterfront for SF fireworks

July 5, 2012 2:14:36 AM PDT
San Francisco's waterfront is rapidly filling up with people getting ready to watch the city's Fourth of July fireworks display. Two identical displays will blast into the sky from the municipal pier at San Francisco's Aquatic Park, and a barge floating in the bay just off Pier 39 -- making most of Fishermen's Wharf a prime place to watch the show.

Pyrotechnicians are putting the final touches on northern california's biggest display of fireworks. They're twisting together tiny wires and loading shells full of gunpowder into big plastic pipes.

"There's probably 2,000-3,000 pounds of fireworks out here," show producer Jeff Thomas said. "I don't like to call them explosives, although that's how they're rated, but they're entertainment packages that are ready to be launched up and painted, painting the sky."

Thomas, who also produced the fireworks on the Golden Gate Bridge anniversary, says the Fourth of July is a chance to show off. He has a massive budget and a massive amount of space.

"We don't really have any distance restrictions, we're out in the water, so we can kind of let loose with anything we want," he said.

And let loose they will -- from two different launch sites, with fireworks made in five different countries.

There's only one thing that might get in the way -- fog.

Thomas says he designs the show with plenty of things that explode below the fog and apparently it works.

"The fog makes a really interesting fireworks show -- they hang longer, they just sit up in the air forever," one spectator said.