About the Fireworks Show

About the Fireworks Show

 “A Salute to the Military Families of our Service Heroes”

The Annual “Big Bay Boom“ July 4th Fireworks Show Is The Largest Fireworks Show on the West Coast!

Show Time: 9:00 – 9:20pm

Music Simulcast:
100.7 BIG FM

TV: shows start at 8 pm and go through the show until 9:30 pm – Watch Live on Fox 5 (San Diego), KTLA 5 (Los Angeles), Fox 40 (Sacramento), or Kron 4 (San Francisco).

Best Viewing: Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North/South Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Coronado Landing, Point Loma homes, Liberty Station, Little Italy, Downtown hotels-high rises- condos, boats on the water, Port parks Read More>>

Estimated attendance: 300,000-500,000 people

Where to park:  See our parking page

Alternate transportation: See our transportation page

Economic Impact to San Diego Region: $10,600,000.00 Read More>>

Charity receiving proceeds of the event: Armed Services YMCA

Contact for sponsorships, contributions, or general information:
H. P. “Sandy” Purdon, Executive Producer/Founder
 Email Us

On July 4th, San Diego’s North Bay, known as THE BIG BAY, will light up with a spectacular fireworks display orchestrated to originally produced music selections.  Given the natural amphitheater from Point Loma to Shelter Island to Harbor Island to Liberty Station to Little Italy to the North Embarcadero to Seaport Village and the South Embarcadero to the Coronado Ferry Landing, the “show” will capture the attention of hundreds of thousands of people.  This is the largest annual event in the western United States with over 500,000 people viewing the show.

fireworksThe “show’ will consist of about 18 minutes of some of the most technically advanced fireworks produced by one of the best worldwide operators of fireworks displays.  The fireworks artists will choreograph the 4 barge locations of pyrotechnics simultaneously to music broadcast “live” on 101.5 KGB radio.

The location of the event will be on four barges strategically located around North San Diego Bay.  The Coast Guard, Harbor Police, and special patrol vessels will assist in providing safety on the water along with the Harbor Police and the City of San Diego police will assist in traffic coordination and public safety on land.

The Port of San Diego’s Big Bay July 4th Fireworks Show was established in 2001 to bring business to the Port Tenants and to benefit the San Diego Armed Services YMCA’s family service programs for our military families including our wounded warriors at Balboa Naval Hospital.  San Diego has thousands of military personnel deployed and the families left behind often face specific challenges that the Armed Services YMCA helps them resolve.

Our Event Mission
To provide the annual July 4th Fireworks Show for the viewing pleasure of the residents of San Diego County and the visitors on land and on the water to the North San Diego Bay known as THE BIG BAY.   A particular focus will be to enhance the visitation to the Point Loma, Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Mission Hills, Little Italy, North & South Embarcadero, Coronado Ferry Landing,  and to promote the business interests on the Port Tidelands and the surrounding communities.

The net proceeds of the event will go to the  Armed Services YMCA whose goal is “to enhance the lives of military personnel and their family members in spirit, mind, and body, by providing programs that strengthen families and are relevant to the unique challenges of military life.”

  • Named 3rd Best Fireworks Show in Nation by AOL!!
  • Named in June 2001 issue of San Diego Magazine as “BEST NEW FIREWORKS SHOW” in San Diego!!
  • Sherman Travel Named Big Bay Boom to Top Ten Best Fireworks Shows to Visit in US!


Sandy Purdon

Big Bay Boom Director HP “Sandy” Purdon

For years there was the Coronado Glorietta Bay July 4th Fireworks Show but no fireworks on San Diego’s “Big Bay” to celebrate our nation’s birthday.   In 2001, Sandy Purdon, the owner of Shelter Cove Marina and a San Diego Port District tenant, was concerned that July 4th was not a typical celebration on San Diego Bay. Having taken his boat to Glorietta Bay and having to struggle with the huge boat parking lot to view the fireworks, he decided to see if a fireworks show could happen off Shelter Island and Harbor Island in San Diego Bay.  The natural amphitheater of the “Big Bay” seemed ideal for fireworks. Over 500,000 people now attend.

Sandy had been the chairman of the Port Tenants Association in the mid 1990’s.  He knew the other business owners and managers on the tidelands around the bay.  This included the hotels, restaurants, marinas, shipyards, etc. He thought “if we bring more people down to our waterfront on July 4th, these businesses would benefit.”  He thought these businesses might be open to a fireworks event to help their businesses which were experiencing lackluster activity on July 4th.

The natural amphitheater of the “Big Bay” seemed ideal for fireworks

The first person in 2001 to step up was Joe Terzi, then the General Manager of the Sheraton Hotels on Harbor Island.  Other tenants responded positively with financial support and the first show with just two barges was organized.  The San Diego Port District came on board with a “Title Sponsorship” of financial support and “in-kind” support for traffic control, portable toilets, and park cleanup among other support on the water with the Harbor Police.

fireworks2The event grew in 2002 to a 3 location event but dropped back to a 2 location event in 2003. In 2004 it went back to a 3 location event and grew to a 4 location event in 2005.  It stayed a 4 location event each year until 2010 when the Imperial Beach Pier was added as a 5th location. The locations include a barge off Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero, South Embarcadero/Seaport Village/Coronado Landing, and a pier location in Imperial Beach. For 2013, the Imperial Beach City Council elected to drop their participation as the cost for the security of police, fire, and EMT was outside their budget limits.  The four barges in North San Diego Bay remain strong and popular venues.

Between 300,000-500,000 currently attend this show

In 2001 when the sponsors and the Port were on board to finance the event, Mr. Purdon realized that the event needed to give back in some fashion.  It was the idea of Capt. Paul J. Hartley, Jr., USN (Ret.) to suggest to Sandy that an ideal charity would be the San Diego Armed Services YMCA as they have over 40 free programs to help military families in the San Diego region.  Since 2001, approximately $400,000 has been contributed to the charity from the Big Bay Boom.

The Big Bay Boom Economic Impact

San Diego’s Big Bay Boom fireworks show, conducted each July 4th, generates approximately $6.0 million in incremental sales for the local area’s hotels, restaurants, retail shops, tour operators, museums, charter cruise firms, boat rental companies, and other businesses.  Adding the various ripple or multiplier effects produced through the supply chain and additional consumer spending, the fireworks event creates an additional $4.2 million in revenues for the local economy. Including the estimated $370,000 value of media exposure, the Big Bay Boom thus delivers a total gross economic value of $10.6 million.

>> Read about the Economic Impact of the Big Bay Boom.

San Diego Armed Services YMCA offers scores of programs to  military families in the San Diego region

The SDASYMCA charity accepts sponsorship funds and personal contributions from the public.  Production, administration, event & environmental permitting, technical oversight, television & radio production, development, fundraising, grants writing, and overall control of the event is managed by Sandy Purdon as the events Executive Producer.  The event continues to grow in exposure to the world for the benefit of the San Diego business community and ultimately our military families in San Diego. Visitors particularly from the Southern California and Arizona regions plan their annual visit to San Diego for this event often taking the best view hotel rooms and reserving the best restaurant or dinner cruise vessels seats for the evening.