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Americafest puts on spectacular show in Pasadena

July 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
There were dozens of fireworks shows scheduled Monday night in Southern California, and one of the largest took place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

According to show officials, Americafest was the largest fireworks exhibition in its history.

"They were amazing because they were huge and had different figures like hearts and smiley faces. They were pretty," said Maria Cartaya of Venezuela.

"Awesome. Unreal. Very exciting the whole way through, from start to end," said San Gabriel resident Kevin MacLellan. "There was no lull or delay of excitement through the whole thing."

Officials said 30,000 people were expected to fill the Rose Bowl for the 85th annual show. Three times as many people were expected outside.

The show started around 6 p.m. and the fireworks started at 9 p.m.

Officials with the Pasadena Fire Department was on the hunt searching for illegal fireworks around the area. They said that for the first time in nearly a decade, they didn't find any.

Eyewitness News got a behind-the-scenes look at Americafest, which was put on by Pyro Spectaculars. Organizers said they put on 400 different firework shows around the U.S. on Fourth of July.

Paul Sousa, a master pyrotechnician, showed us what the fireworks look like before they blow up.

"When it reaches the apex in the sky, it'll open up in a floral pattern. In this case, we have a happy face," Sousa said as he demonstrated. "The way the shell works, as it's flying in the air, the little timing fuse is burning, hits a break charge, blows the shell up, and all these pretty balls - what we call stars - is what you see."

Sousa said the 6,000 effects each have a firing cue.

"We carefully load the device into the mortar, drop it down, and then wire and hook it up to the appropriate cue terminal," said Sousa.

The fireworks are directed through a series of three different computers.

"The show's programmed to music. There's a musical soundtrack as well as some video," said Sousa. "We keep everything in sequence with this computer, and we're able to fire things in rapid succession."

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