Ahead of one of the largest professional fireworks shows on the West Coast, public safety officials in San Francisco on Tuesday are finalizing security measures along the Embarcadero to keep the Fourth of July celebrating crowd safe.
Police have stockpiled barracades at the two primary viewing sites along the waterfront to keep people out of the street. And they will have extra patrols along the entire Embaracadero.
"You may see more officers that are armed, as you did during Pride," San Francisco police spokesman Officer Robert Rueca said. "I mean more armed. Officers with rifles, on foot, in SUVs and on dirt bikes. And more on standby."
Rueca added that the San Francisco police force is prepping to handle any unexpected demonstrations.
"Usually, for July Fourth, that’s not what we expect, but we are prepared for that," he said.
Some celebrations started earlier Tuesday
at Golden Gate Park. where families were scraping down the grills and setting the tables well before lunchtime. The Fourth of July menu included all the usual suspects: chicken wings, corn, hot dogs, pork and beans, chili beans, tacos, carne asada and pastas.
Ten thousand fireworks will explode over a 25-minute show Tuesday night, about 400 per minute, on average. A couple of dozen technicians on Monday were carefully loading the mortar tubes with the fireworks shells on two barges that will be towed into place out on the bay Tuesday afternoon.
Each one of the 10,000 shells is wired to a computer that is programmed to coordinate the pyrotecnics with patriotic music, show producer Jeff Thomas said. The two prime locations are Pier 39 and Aquatic Park.
The biggest challenge, Thomas said, is getting everything wired in properly. The biggest headache is the fog. So Thomas said he's preparing shells to explode at different altitudes.
"So that even if there is some fog way up high, we’ll still have a viewing area at the lower levels," he said.
Thomas says he can remember only a couple of years when the fog came in so thick it spoiled the show.
The fireworks go off at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. The best viewing area will be between Aquatic Park and Pier 39, near the old cannery building. That's where Thomas will be stationed, so he can watch both shows simultaneously.