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Meet the people behind the 96th annual AmericaFest Firework Show in Pasadena

CBS Los Angeles logo CBS Los Angeles 6/30/2022 CBSLA Staff

The countdown has begun for the biggest fireworks show west of the Mississippi. 

That means the clock is ticking for the people responsible for putting the spectacular 4th of July show together. 

For 95 years, Paul Souza and his family have orchestrated the annual firework show that takes place in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl.

It's officially crunch time for Souza and his cohorts at Pyro Spectaculars by Souza in Rialto. 

After a year of planning, a thousand pounds of equipment and 200 pounds of explosives, 25 pyrotechnicians are finalizing the last preparations for Pasadena's AmericaFest

Souza will be highlighting the Rose Bowl's 100th birthday. 

"I'm combining the elements of celebrating freedom and liberty and the American story with celebrating the iconic building and all these experiences people have had at the rose bowl," Souza said.

The Rose Bowl is almost as old as the family business. Since Souza's great great grandfather immigrated to the us from Portugal in the early 1900s, the family has put on thousands of fireworks spectaculars.  

"Multi generations of my family have put food on the table celebrating America," Souza said. 

The fifth generation pyrotechnician now incorporates digital effects, musical ensembles and intricate computer choreography to make his shows unforgettable.  

Souza's show has become so extravagant that he had to get another computer, just for storage.

However, Souza told CBSLA Reporter Rina Nakano that putting together pyrotechnic shows are very rewarding but also an extremely dangerous job. That's why he wants the public to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

"Don't' be on your city block shooting off fireworks, especially with the mixture of alcohol. It's just unsafe," Souza said. "Let the pros do it. Come to a pro show and see our art."

This year's AmericaFest is sponsored by CBSLA and will be broadcasted on KCAL9 Evening News on Monday and on CBS News Los Angeles.  

CBSLA Anchor Pat Harvey and Meteorologist Evelyn Taft will be live at the Rose Bowl on Monday hosting the biggest firework show in Southern California. 

For a list of other firework shows happening on 4th of July in Southern California, clink the link to find out.


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