Light Shows: Fireworks Without the Messy Cleanup

This Fourth of July, Sacramento’s Cal Expo will have its traditional fireworks show. But for the California State Fair later this summer, the fairgrounds facility will not have a fireworks display. Instead, fair organizers have decided to use a drone light show. They say this is a way to be environmentally safer and more inclusive to those who are sensitive to loud explosions.

While large fireworks shows can seem like a blast to view in person—pardon the pun—they often require massive post-show cleanups.

For example, following the Super Bowl 50 fireworks show in San Francisco in 2016, four 5-gallon trash cans worth of pyrotechnic debris washed ashore at the San Francisco’s Aquatic Park. Two years ago, in Lake Tahoe, debris from a Fourth of July show washed up on a beach. And a similar incident happened in the Seattle area when volunteers picked up 533 pounds of trash (fireworks debris and other waste) in Lake Union after the Independence Day festivities.

One area in California has already taken measures to keep fireworks show organizers accountable and have best practices in place to keep fireworks-related pollutants out of the water and to require cities to report post-show cleanup efforts. For a public fireworks display over any water body within the boundaries of the San Diego Region, the city or show organizer must receive a general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the San Diego Water Board.

OK, let’s go back to the drone show. Does it even look halfway decent? Well, upon some review, the drone light show doesn’t seem half bad. And if this is a way to keep less debris from falling into our waters and ending up in our landfills, it may not be a bad option this summer or for years to come.

If you’re in the Sacramento area, see both shows and see what you think!


— Syd Fong
Posted on Jul 1, 2019

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Summary: This Fourth of July, Sacramento’s Cal Expo will have its traditional fireworks show. But for the California State Fair later this summer, the fairgrounds facility will not have a fireworks display. Instead, fair organizers have decided to use a drone light show.