Okay OB, What’s the Verdict on the Drone Light Show on the 4th?

by on July 5, 2023 · 59 comments

in Ocean Beach

“OB Parrot” by Dan Dennison

What did you think of  OB’s first ever drone light show on the 4th? We’re looking for reactions and comments on OB’s Luminosity’s efforts to bring back a light show for July 4.

Let us know how you felt in the comments below. What is the community’s response to this new type of Independence Day celebration?

Here’s a report from CBS8.

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Pearce July 5, 2023 at 9:30 am

Watched the drone show from the top of Santa Monica Boulevard. We all loved it, and we’re already looking forward to the next time!


kh July 5, 2023 at 9:57 am

There was a lot of buzz on Newport, and I mean from the people, anticipating something new, trying to figure out the best vantage point. Saw a lot of tailgating from the US Bank lot and Mallory’s lot, which were great spots.

This was the first drone show I’ve seen and I was impressed. It seemed like most watching weren’t aware of the synchronized music. And the MB fireworks were plainly visible afterwards for anyone that needed their pyrotechnic fix. Along with the personal fireworks. I’m looking forward to what comes next. Honestly after watching this I wondered why people get so excited over fireworks that are pretty much the same every year.

I heard that drone shows are expensive, but maybe that will come down in price more in the future. Or go up as demand increases, who knows.
I think if they were able to launch from the beach or maybe Saratoga park it would be better. Or one of the rooftops like the hotel.


Bill July 5, 2023 at 7:57 pm

We all enjoyed it and thought it was cool. I am hopeful it will get improved every year. As others have suggested..a little higher and rotate images that are not symmetrical so everyone has a good view or publish the best area to view. Loved to wale on OB Seagull . This was a real change up and would like it to continue.


Sam July 5, 2023 at 11:18 am

The show was OK, although I wasn’t wild about the song choices and how they were spliced together, it seems to me that a more modern song choice with better editing would go a long way to make it more exciting.

On a side note though, I feel bad for all the local businesses as there were nowhere near the number of visitors to the beach as there were in the past. All of those people packing the beach all day and spending lots of money just seems non existent without the fireworks.


Geoff Page July 5, 2023 at 12:02 pm

I wasn’t able to get to the show, but I agree with you. I went to Von’s about 7:00 and was surprised to see very quiet streets everywhere. The OB attraction was always sitting on the sand and watching the show from the pier. There was no other place to see anything like that, hence the crowds. Regular fireworks were taking place elsewhere and maybe drone shows haven’t caught on yet. It was kind if nice not to have all the traffic. I wonder if the change really affected the merchants.


Joni Halpern July 5, 2023 at 12:05 pm

Maybe people will start gravitating toward the electronic show as it gets better and we begin to see how much less toxic it is to the environment. It seems like a small sacrifice to make in order to ease the pain of people who have lived through real bombardment, as well as to ease the discomfort of people’s pets, and to halt some of the degradation of our environment. Fireworks shows have gotten more and more spectacular as time has gone on, with competition for the public’s attention. But the traffic problem that makes people choose not to visit locations that are hard to leave after the display is over might be at the heart of what is ailing businesses and may not be resolved by drone displays.


kh July 5, 2023 at 10:13 pm

Well the weather sucked and it was windy around sunset. There was a lot of people spread up and down Newport which covers a larger area.


Laura Dennison July 5, 2023 at 12:20 pm

We had a great view up from the Masonic Hall. Music was fun for us! Surprised that Newport was empty because the traffic after the show was similar to past years’ post-fireworks show. Maybe people were at friends’ houses eating BBQ? But we loved it! It was so OB. THANK YOU MIKE & THE LUMINOSITY COMMITTEE! ?


Eric DuVall July 5, 2023 at 12:23 pm

I thought the drone show exceeded my expectations, but I didn’t know what to expect. It was really pretty good. We were standing on Newport by the crosswalk and it was a good view. I did not hear the music and a lady I spoke with this morning told me that from where she was up on the hill it just looked like a bunch of lights, she couldn’t see the illusions. I’m a fireworks fan and from the east side of the hill you can see five fireworks shows, four of them synchronized with music – that is the competition. OB was very quiet for a 4th though, no real parking probs, mainly quiet streets.


Geoff Page July 5, 2023 at 12:27 pm

I live over by Collier Park, not that far from the school. I went out on my porch and could not see anything. I’m wondering what altitude the show was, especially after reading about how a viewer up on the hill could only see lights.


Sam July 5, 2023 at 12:30 pm

My guess is that it was from 100 – 200 feet, not the 400 feet as advertised.


Geoff Page July 5, 2023 at 12:31 pm

That would explain it.


Aaron Sun July 10, 2023 at 8:50 am

It was very cool. I’ve seen fireworks my whole life. Drones seemed more like the future we live in now. Also great for Vets and pets. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress in drone shows


Cory July 5, 2023 at 1:23 pm

Future shows need to be higher. We were on Del Mar at Ebers and could only see the tops of the various figures. I don’t think it was 400′ up as someone mentioned. If it was it would have been more visible for more people, but I also understand there are restrictions due to the airspace here. Also, it just kind of ended with no finale. So for future shows, fly them higher, have better synchronized music, and end with a bang like traditional shows.


edwin decker July 5, 2023 at 1:40 pm

First, hats off to Mike James and the team for actually doing something about the issue of not having fireworks. I thought the drone show was great and enjoyed it immensely. I heard some people talking poorly about it afterward, but poked my nose in and said that it shouldn’t be compared to the fireworks show; you just have to view it as it’s own, separate thing because it could never be as good as a bona fide fireworks show.

One quick note for next year. It turned out the pier really wasn’t the best place from which to watch as the bottoms of the displays were blocked by rooftops. It doesn’t make sense intuitively, but when the crowd and I walked down toward Pomas/Raglans intersection, we got a much better view.


Nicole July 6, 2023 at 6:47 am

We loved it – especially for our sound sensitive kiddo. It was just plain cool, period. We listened to the broadcast which had some fun OB shoutouts as it counted down to the show. Then on our walk home over the hill we caught the Sea World fireworks so we got the best of both worlds!

Hope it comes back next year. Thanks to Luminosity!


Frank Gormlie July 6, 2023 at 7:56 am
Michelle July 5, 2023 at 2:36 pm

We absolutely LOVED the drone light show last night. It was precious to see the images representing our town by the sea. The OB parrot, the dog catching the frisbee, dolphins and a surfer! Come on. No loud, toxic fire in the sky could match that beauty. And, everyone brought their dogs – which means there wasn’t any trauma from big bangs and booms. We hope this is the beginning of an era of celebrating with quiet, beautiful designs in the sky!


John July 5, 2023 at 2:37 pm

Congratulations to the Luminosity team, this should definitely permanently replace the fireworks. We loved that several of the formations (like the parrot) reflected scenes and life in OB! I agree though that the viewing would be better if the drones flew higher, and that the end was a bit of a dud. Also I don’t know how long these drones can stay up, or perhaps it was a cost issue, but my expectation was that the show would last longer than it did.


LBruce July 5, 2023 at 3:16 pm

First of all, MAJOR kudos to Mike James and all involved for organizing this and helping OB lead the way in adopting this wonderful technology. We were determined to avoid the beach and Newport because we figured we’d never get out once it was over. I think a lot of us felt that way and chose to watch from up the hill, near Froude and Guizot. We certainly had LOTS of company. What we saw was wonderful but clearly facing away from us. We wished the drones would do a 360. That said, what we saw from Santa Monica and Guizot was delightful. I loved the representations of all the OB icons. Next time just assume the performance takes place in a theatre in the round and you’ll have even more happy campers.


Scott Pearce July 5, 2023 at 3:24 pm
Scott Pearce July 9, 2023 at 9:17 pm

Here’s another video clip from the drone show!



ferol July 5, 2023 at 9:02 pm

I, like several others, was disappointed in my inability to see the drone show. I’m in the 4400 block of Narragansett and even went up to my second story to catch a glimpse of the lights. I was able to see the top of only one ‘design’ for the entire show.
I appreciate the work everyone did to make this happen but I felt that, because of the small size of the viewing area, the entire OB community was not included in what has always been an all inclusive community experience. It just didn’t feel like the 4th of July.


Leo July 5, 2023 at 9:57 pm

I’m sorry, but the drone show was bad. So bad that the group of people that were around us were laughing trying to figure out what the shapes were! I’ll give an “A” for effort especially since it was done on a small budget, but Please, please, PLEASE don’t do this again next year. Everyone we talked to thought it was pathetic!


Chris July 6, 2023 at 12:35 pm

Or instead of not doing again, improve it?


Nanci Kelly July 6, 2023 at 2:01 am

I couldn’t attend but my family members who did, from the kids to the adults, all said it was really cool. The only recommendation was to increase the elevation if that’s possible. I looked from my building’s 3rd floor balcony (4400 block of W. Pt Loma Blvd), just in case, but we couldn’t see it from there (didn’t really expect to). As others have said, the dogs could attend (hooray!) and the pups at home weren’t traumatized by the noise. We’re all so appreciative of that, plus the environmental benefits on land and in the water. I heard many people say that the feeling around OB seemed much more relaxed – they enjoyed it a lot. Thanks!


Leo July 6, 2023 at 7:58 am

Hmmmm…It seems like my negative comment about the drone show was removed. ? I guess we’ll see if it stays this time! The drone show was bad! Everyone around us were cracking up because they thought it was so bad. I hope we go back to fireworks next year!


Frank Gormlie July 6, 2023 at 8:04 am

Leo, your original comment is up. Since this was (probably) your first time commenting here, the Rag administrator approved it.


Verbal Goddess July 6, 2023 at 12:40 pm

Scroll up. Your comments are there. Also, do you not remember WHY she had to go with a drone show or do you like the city burning around you? Drone shows are here to stay because of fires. Plus they are better on PTSD and animals.


Vern July 6, 2023 at 8:14 am

Drone show was well done. From up at Santa Barbara & Newport it was visible. However, it might be good, in the future, to get more elevation (as others have mentioned).

It was anything but quiet, though. Many M-100’s, bottle rockets and such were going off all over the peninsula. We joked that there may have been even more “personal” fireworks just to spite the drone show.


Timothy Joseph Cassedy July 6, 2023 at 8:20 am

I think they had to keep the show relatively low and altitude because of the cloud cover. Otherwise part of it would have been above the clouds I think. It was nice but it lacked the scale of a fireworks display I suppose it would be more expensive to have a larger amount of drones to make it bigger. A lot of people complained about not having the percussive events that go along with fireworks. I guess something lost and something gained at the same time.


Timothy Joseph Cassedy July 6, 2023 at 8:23 am

I almost forgot I really enjoyed the seagull and OB symbol display. That was really cool and something that would be difficult to do with fireworks AND Made it specific to OB


James Davis July 6, 2023 at 9:03 am

Loved the idea but everyone on top of the hill was scrambling for a viewpoint. We one caught a glimpse of the lights. I realize flight path is probably a major consideration but tucked in that close to the hill made viewing difficult at best. I saw many people on their roofs, some said they only saw the light but not a shape. Many of us simply assumed it would be a bit easier to view as the fireworks have always been (since 1980). Hopefully next year they will be able to utilize the pier.


Rae July 6, 2023 at 10:29 am

I thought it was a sad substitute for fireworks. Fireworks are more than a visual. They stimulate all your senses & send out an energy which vibrates through your body. They are also a rare opportunity to connect with the element of fire. I found no excitement or connection to a display of artifical lights. Nor did i hear many Ohhs or Ahhs from the crowd. It was AKWARDLY quiet. At the VERY least I suggest providing a soundtrack which can be played on a local radio station, so that the crowd can collectively listen to a soundtrack of corresponding music. I do understand inland communities have to consider fire hazards and stop the use of fireworks, but the beach should be an exception. People come from so far to visit the beach on a holiday. We should be providing them and our locals with the best.


Geoff Page July 6, 2023 at 11:14 am

We got some special drugs from our vet that we started on Monday. We had our dog heavily drugged and he was still petrified. The light show is a great idea, especially for the animals and for people who can’t stand the loud noises. Now we need to demand that fucking Seaworld stop its fireworks.


Verbal Goddess July 6, 2023 at 11:30 am

Rae – A silent show is better for the environment, including cats and dogs. Our veterans with PTSD don’t need the loud noises. There is no real reason to have the noise.


kh July 6, 2023 at 8:25 pm

There was streaming music choreographed with it. Maybe the link wasn’t advertised well enough.


Eric B July 6, 2023 at 8:59 pm

The show was fun, our party liked it. It can definitely get better. The soundtrack was very bad and poorly mixed. It can be better. The war zone was still a war zone. Man, the amount of fireworks set off by individuals seemed to be the most ever!


Will July 9, 2023 at 11:03 am

It is crazy how the crowds used to pack in to view the fireworks. I was very surprised how OB turned into a 4th of July ghost town in their absence. One of my favorite OB memories is throwing marshmallows at strangers across a bonfire as hard as I could at the beach as the fireworks concluded. Freaking magical but I know it created a ridiculous mess.

I liked the drone show. It was a little short but the animations were cool. The lack of percussion is a factor for people but I think more people need to stream the soundtrack on speakers. This year is a leaning curve and I hope the drones are back next year.

The finale in the bay taking place following the show was a good juxtaposition of what we are leaving behind. It sounds like a straight up artillery barrage and fills the night with smoke and particulate mass coming down. It does speak to something primal inside us but also something dumb. At the end of the day I like the sense of community and crowds- it’s a party. That’s what I miss about the fireworks. Many businesses were closed. Tried to stop at Hess- already closed. Was going to watch at Dirty Birds. Had a single drink then they closed before the show despite the perfect vantage point. Hopefully we can improve for next year and grow this event. Kudos to the planners for bringing something back for the 4th!


Chris July 9, 2023 at 3:49 pm

You do know Mikes Hess is a big Trumper who moved to Texas to be with more people who are like minded? Their beer is decent so many in the local beer community want nothing to do with him. Even their North Park location has far less business as far as in store customers that before people knew more about him?


Vern July 10, 2023 at 6:20 pm

“…Their beer is decent so many in the local beer community want nothing to do with him…”


Chris July 10, 2023 at 7:52 pm

For the 2nd time, you’ve shown you know how to quote.


Dr. Jack Hammer July 6, 2023 at 10:38 am

First off, thanks to all who made the efforts to pull it off. I know there was a ton of work and it is certainly not going unnoticed.

I felt the show was underwhelming. Couldn’t see it so well and it was pretty short and uneventful. I understand it is the first time and will become more complex in the future… but this time around I didn’t think it was worthwhile.

But again, thanks to all involved and their efforts!


Dr. Jack Hammer July 6, 2023 at 10:40 am

p.s. I was on a third story roof patio and could see maaaayyyybeeee the upper 30% of the show…


Stephen Raycraft July 6, 2023 at 11:48 am

It was stupid


Leo July 12, 2023 at 10:32 am

I’m glad someone agrees with me


Jon July 6, 2023 at 3:06 pm

Unfortunately we were out of town this year. I was really hoping to catch the inaugural Luminosity event! Everything I’ve heard from friends was positive so kudos to Mike James and the team of locals who made it happen. It sounds like most people just wanted a longer show, and maybe next year we’ll have a better idea of where the best viewing sites are. I can’t hate on the detractors who want fireworks back because who doesn’t like a giant colorful explosion in the sky?

Before I had dogs I didn’t give two sh*ts about how that might impact other animals or humans who are traumatized by such things and I would gleefully set off firecrackers and enjoy the show off the pier. But similar to the ol’ marshmallow wars, what was once viewed as fun can be seen differently when we can acknowledge the negative impacts to environments and people.


Chris July 6, 2023 at 5:06 pm

For some reason I thought last year was the first year for this drown show. Anyway I didn’t make it this year because it was a school night and I had to get up at 4:30 Wednesday morning for work. Hopefully next year.
Anyway the whole veterans with PTSD argument is interesting. First off, all veterans don’t have PTSD and second, those who do all have different variations of it and different reactions. There are veterans who have combat stress related PTSD and love fireworks and find them therapeutic. Likewise there are others who are very much the opposite. It really depends on the individual. People on both sides of the debate like to tweak the experience of veterans to make their point. Comical in some ways but also disingenuous.


Chris July 6, 2023 at 5:08 pm

I personally like the idea of drone shows and DO agree with others for both environmental reasons AND the affects the noise has on animals it’s time to move on and make the switch.


Geoff Page July 6, 2023 at 7:56 pm

No one is tweaking the experience of veterans, Chris. You said yourself just now that some veterans react badly to the fireworks displays. Isn’t “some” enough for us? Why should even one person be terrified by displays like that?


Chris July 10, 2023 at 12:17 pm

Geoff, I’m not arguing in favor of keeping the fireworks, only that people DO in fact use the experience of veterans as talking points for their side, often more about winning their side than any real concern for veterans themselves. Not saying that’s always the case but it happens. I’ve encountered that more than a few times.


Gsquaredmarg July 6, 2023 at 5:47 pm

Kudos to the organizers and those who executed the plan. I thought it was incredible.

I didn’t know what to expect. I had seen drone shows on TV, but never live. I was definitely impressed! The simulcast added to the visuals, and I loved the OB connections in the displays.


Christamaria Ormsby July 6, 2023 at 10:50 pm

People just south in Sunset Cliffs could not see it at all. We drove over the ridge and were able to catch the end. I agree that if possible it should move west towards the ocean so more people could view it (if possible). Thank you to the organizers for providing something different since the pier was not available.


Jay July 7, 2023 at 11:05 am

Please do not do and bring back the fireworks


Warren K Wright July 8, 2023 at 4:05 pm

Greatly exceeded my expectations. Looked great from Muir and Guizot, although it looked like we were behind it. The synchronized music made it work, we were all laughing and clapping.


Will July 9, 2023 at 11:14 am

My wife made this comment and I thought it was an interesting point. The fireworks themselves are generally boring. If they are so great, why doesn’t the whole community view the Seaworld fireworks on a near nightly basis? They are essentially the same show and predictable. It’s the community spirit and camaraderie on the holiday that are actually fun.


OB John July 10, 2023 at 4:31 pm

I really liked them. Didn’t know exactly what to expect but thought all the images were really interesting. Saw it from Ebers & Voltaire St and probably had about the bottom 1/4th of the show cut off by surrounding buildings but still well worth watching. I don’t need a bunch of big noise since we have that every day here already. I think the show will improve every year as they learn what works and what doesn’t and technology for this improves. I hope this is a permanent thing. Thanks to all who worked to put this show on!


Devon July 15, 2023 at 4:08 pm

Silent night o holy night
It be rad for something like christmas

I’m serious.

I got my fix at the mission bay yhaat club barge the night before so I was truly open minded. Ive lived here for 18 years on Abbott and I chose to stay because I want to be on my beach on the 4th. Thats what u do.
Next year I’m gonna leave.

Robots making images in the sky
I couldn’t find anything in me that thought it was enjoyable or impressive. technology is light years ahead of what I witnessed. It was boring.

Drones replacing fireworks.
Self check outs replacing humans.
Its the slow death of america.

Overhearing people in town saying what u think of the drone show….there was a long pause and then people wanting to show the pictures they took. They didn’t have much to say. They just wanted to share pictures…..because maybe they didnt have an experience. They just had pictures. The whole town walking to the beach in unison is one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Watching the traffic train out of town standstill when it was over as I casually walked home to my happy smily neighbors with marshmellows slapping me in the face. The 4th of July fills our hearts so deep. We buy shit but were just buying bbq and beer. Its awesome.

It seemed like people needed to like it to not feel hurt. But did they really like it?

The animals. The ptsd. Why is there so much hype on this hurting animals now? Why not 20 years ago? Sucks for the humans that have that. I honestly think there’s just less residents in this town and the ones that are left…..may be the drone leaning crowd.

I think people see their pets as their children now. I think people have completely lost what being American means.

I here people say it
This country this this country that. My father is very upset with this country. And I’m like dad…..whatever u do dont hate it. That is the moment we loose everything!

But thats the thing

People forgot that we are this country
Were all acting like children with a controlling restricting parent that is viewed as this country with no hope. Yes its very disturbing, but if we let america for, its over. Theres no where to hide. The whole world will be screwed.

The beach was empty
The town was empty
It was not the 4th of July

Fireworks are intense
Freedom is intense
And that’s why we need to have an explosive show 1 day a year.

Thankfully someone erected a party on the beach with a generator and live music performance. The tide over took the stage the moment I swear this kid was lip syncing as sea world lit the sky up. There was only about a hundred people in this little patch on this beach celebrating our freedom loud as f#%$. A tear was worth squirting. Everyone was full smiles. I danced hard. I thanked my freedom. It was beautiful.


Vern July 16, 2023 at 7:30 pm

“… The 923 bus (Downtown) has 44 stops departing from Point Loma Av & Sunset Cliffs Bl and ending in 9th Av & C St…”


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: