Jul 1, 2016

You can geek out to July 4th fireworks and space travel at this year’s Rose Bowl AmericaFest

By Jason Henry, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Michel Nolan, San Bernardino Sun

Doug Bernard, Juno project systems engineer, stands before a full-scale solar array wing for the Juno spacecraft in JPL’s clean room on June 9, 2016. Juno is scheduled to be captured into Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. 

As the Juno spacecraft attempts to enter Jupiter’s orbit Monday, thousands of fans inside the Rose Bowl Stadium will go along for the ride.

This year’s AmericaFest will feature both a live view of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s mission control room as Juno reaches its destination and a unique fireworks display that commemorates the NASA mission.

Though NASA would prefer Juno to finish its five-year journey to the gas giant Jupiter without any fireworks, the audience at the Rose Bowl is guaranteed to get a show.

“It’s a good platform, a good way for them to share what is happening,” said Darryl Dunn, the Rose Bowl’s general manager. “Hopefully it’s going to introduce the Juno mission to the people in attendance.”


The partnership between NASA and bottle-rocket scientists is a bit of happenstance. The Juno mission reaching Jupiter on July 4 wasn’t intentional, but it lined up perfectly with the 90th annual AmericaFest. With JPL only a few miles away, the two parties decided to work together to give the mission a little extra fanfare.

The Juno mission is designed to peer through Jupiter’s cloudy atmosphere in the hopes of discovering how the gas giant may have formed. The mission launched in 2011 with three Legos minifigures stowing away.


The Rose Bowl plans to paint a glow-in-the-dark and life-sized version of the Juno probe — about the size of a basketball court — into the stadium’s field ahead of the show. They’ll also have special pre-recorded messages from the science guy Bill Nye, the head of the Pasadena-based Planetary Society.

The JPL Chorus — yes, that’s a thing — will open the show with the National Anthem.

Minutes before the fireworks show kicks off, the stadium will cut to mission control as NASA learns whether Juno successfully maneuvered into orbit. As the Juno team (hopefully) celebrates, the first volley of fireworks is expected to launch.

“They will be celebrating America’s independence at the same time as this great breakthrough in space exploration,” said Jim Souza, president and CEO of Pyro Spectaculars, a Rialto-based company that produces fireworks shows around the world. “Everyone at JPL is excited. It gives you chills to think about it.”

The show will end with a special shell called “The Moons of Jupiter,” signed by the Juno team, that will explode into the shape of Juno’s mission logo.


The Rose Bowl’s parking lots open at 9 a.m. with a festival beginning at 2 p.m. and the opening ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m.

The celebration, dubbed “the Biggest Fireworks show in Southern California,” includes free style motocross and a Beatles tribute band.

Tickets for the show are still available, according to TicketMaster.