From: Pasadena Now
Published: July 1, 2019
By: Donna Balancia and David Cross
If everything is big in Texas, they are a little bigger at the Rose Bowl.
Fireworks designed after Disney’s film “The Lion King” will light up the sky Thursday in what is considered the biggest Fourth of July display west of the Mississippi. (And Texas is west of the Mississippi.)
We are talking about AmericaFest, which is going to field its 93rd — yes 93rd — edition of the gunpowder spectacular. The patriotic pyrotechnics will be generated by the creative minds at Spectaculars by Souza and sponsored by Honda.
“I would say it’s a good combination of wholesome fun between Disney and 4th of July fireworks Americana,” said Paul Souza, the fifth generation of a fireworks family “It’s a nice juxtaposition of the two ideas to create an overall production that is family friendly and very entertaining, clean and safe.”
Pyro Spectaculars by Souza regularly showers major events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics with explosive light magic. And although this is not the company’s first turn at the Rose Bowl either, rest assured this year’s will not repeat last’s.
How does AmericaFest compare to some of the other fireworks shows around the country?
“It’s high end,” Souza said. “It’s the biggest we have in California and the biggest thing, west of the Mississippi. New York, hands-down is the biggest show in the country, so we can’t necessarily compare it to that. But it’s probably, yeah, one-fifth of what New York is, but the biggest thing the West Coast does offer.”
Technology’s changing hand, everywhere evident in our contemporary world, moves things around in the explosions game, too.
“There’s a number of things that have changed even over the last few decades,” Souza said. “The chemistry is thousands of years old, but the application isn’t and we still are priding ourselves on using modern technology, meaning I use the computer to choreograph the display. The access to songs is at your fingertips now. We shoot the show with computers to a hundredth of a second precision.”
With all the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are spent on the average fireworks shows, it became necessary to improve the likelihood of accuracy Souza said.
“When my grandpa was doing this stuff in the ’80s, we were shooting things straight into one position,” he said. “Now we just spread this out wide and keep the whole frame of vision just filled with fireworks. We couldn’t do that without digital. The digital technology unlocks for us an unlimited way of presenting the fireworks. So that’s new.”
He talked about a back-and-forth of sorts in pyrotechnics between the Chinese and Europeans. The former invented fireworks, the latter primed them with technology that increased production costs. The Chinese, in turn, applied an industrial, mass-production model to the art, reducing the cost of European concoctions.
“There’s this feedback loop between China being the inventors, and then Westerners taking it to another level up, and then Chinese taking it back and retooling it,” Souza explained. “And so the colors are there, more colors are available than there were 20 years ago. We might have had eight to start with, and now there are 15 colors. And the safety of the devices just continues to increase, which is important for my technicians and the audience.”
It is illegal to set off fireworks in Pasadena and Souza said there are also safety reasons for the public to go and see a professional show.
“I always just like to emphasize that it’s important to see a professionally put-on public display,” he said. “The State of California is tremendously dry. It’ll be worse this year after all the rains provided new growth and it dries down. Come see your professional shot display, and we prefer you do it at the Rose Bowl.”
Tickets for AmericaFest, presented by Honda, are on sale at Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000 or at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $15 for general admission. Children 5 years old and under are admitted free. Reserve tickets are $35.
Event parking is $50 per vehicle and $60 for preferred parking. Members of the active military and three of their family members receive free admission by showing a current military identification at Rose Bowl Stadium Gate B on the day of the event at 3 p.m.