There are firework shows, and then there's San Diego's Big Bay Boom.
Every year between 300,000 and 500,000 people descend on the Embarcaderro, Coronado, Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Marina District, Seaport Village and several other vantage points for the largest fireworks display on the West Coast.
Twelve thousand pounds of fireworks launched from four barges in the bay to create simultaneous displays all along the city skyline.
The show was also broadcast to 25 million homes across California.
One spectator told NBC 7 that despite not being born in this country, the shows of patriotism and the roaring colorful explosions make him as proud as anybody else.
Eyob Kahasay says the holiday reminds him that "America is an idea that's always growing, always blossoming, always growing. It's a seed. That's its strength and beauty."
Kahasay came to the United States from Eretria when he was just a boy. He fled a war that eventually led to his home nation's own independence.
But having gone to middle school and high school here in the states, his heart has settled in the Land of the Free and he now calls the U.S. home.
He says where he's from has become a far distant place, and now he's pursuing naturalization. He looks forward to becoming a citizen of a country full of people who are different but also just like him.
"All these minds come from all corners of the world, making their dreams come true and America blossoms with them," he said.
Navy Veteran Jeff Brady shared a similar reflection of the holiday.
"It does seem to bring everybody together, no matter what race religion or creed we are," Brady said. "It kind of reminds everyone to set aside your differences and remember why it is we are Americans."
With so many people in one place, many of whom are from out of town, it's not hard to imagine the positive economic impact the show has on the city.
The Carnitas Snack Shack sits between the Star of India and the USS Midway Museum – right in the middle of the Fourth of July celebration.
“It’s nonstop all day long,” she adds. “It's our training day, our Super Bowl.” This is Dickens’ first Fourth of July managing the shack. She started 10 months ago.
Businesses made $10.6 million in 2012 (the last time a study was done), according to Big Bay Boom organizers. They also say the city expects to make $500,000 in hotel taxes this week alone.