Happy Birthday, USA

Release Date: July 7,2016


A couple watches Santa Barbara's fireworks display from the end of the breakwater at Santa Barbara Harbor on Monday.



July 5, 2016

Thousands of locals and tourists lined Cabrillo Blvd. along Santa Barbara's West Beach to revel at this year's All-American Independence Day Celebration honoring the birth of the nation.

After watching a series of parades in Montecito and along State Street or taking in the West Coast Symphony concert at the Sunken Garden, approximately 60,000 viewers settled in along West Beach to watch the annual Fourth of July fireworks show produced by New Jersey based Garden State Fireworks.

The extravaganza marked the second year in which the City of Santa Barbara hired the pyrotechnics group to produce and engineer the annual celebration.

"It was all smiles, all cheers," from the City after last year, said Garden State's Teresa Santore, whose great-grandfather started the fireworks company a century ago. Last year's firework display went off with 100 percent success, she said, and Monday night's show appeared to keep the streak going.

The show began exactly on time as KjEE's Phat J screamed "Let the Games Begin!" from the West Beach stage as the audience counted down to the first cannon launch while listening to the radio simulcast. The display this year was a succinct affair, full of fancy new effects. Some fireworks exploded in a ring of one color with another color blossoming in the middle. Some produced a rainbow of colors, others just lit up the sky with intense white globes.

The brocade section, a waterfall of golden sparklers was one of the event's highlights, seeming to hover in mid-air as numerous brocade shells exploded at the same time. Garden State Fireworks calls it their signature piece. A show like this, she said, "is just as important as Christmas. It's months and months of hard work."

And at the finale, shell after shell were launched into the air, filling the night sky with red, white and blue, over and over. All that was left of five-thousand shells was a lazy cloud of smoke that hovered over the ocean and the smell of burnt chemicals.

"We don't put all that work into everything not to have 100 percent," said Ms. Santore. "We have a lot of family secrets, but it's all down to hard work to guarantee success."

Early birds to West Beach took in the sounds of live performers including Live Dog Band, Bella Heart and Soul, and cover band Super Stoked, along with performances by La Boheme Dancers.

Food vendors lined Cabrillo Blvd. along West Beach and Stearns Wharf also was filled with people trying to get a great seat to watch the show. The Wharf hosted its own bands as well for the event.

According to SBPD spokesman Sgt. Riley Harwood, there were no major incidents during or immediately following the fireworks presentation.

email: news@newspress.com

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