The legendary KGB SkyShow was promoted and designed to be an exclamation point on the recent Holiday Bowl college football game, held in downtown San Diego for the first time at Petco Park.
Instead, snafus in the much-beloved fireworks-and-aerial display left many fans with question marks after the game on Dec. 28, 2022.
A large gap in the middle of the SkyShow was reportedly due to malfunctioning drones.
“Unfortunately, the drone portion of the show did not work,” says KGB program director Shauna Moran. “I’m still working with our contracted drone partner to find out why.”
The SkyShow has historically been a fireworks show that’s synchronized to music.
“The areas of the show where there was no Pyro and just music is where the drones were supposed to be,” Moran says. “It takes many hours to come up with the theme, music and video and Pyro–which all worked.”
Pyro Spectaculars by Souza is the longtime producer of the KGB SkyShow.
Pyro could not be reached for comment. It’s unclear who had direct oversight of the drone portion of the show.
“It’s very disappointing and quite frankly heartbreaking that the drones didn’t work,” Moran says. “This is not a reflection of the SkyShow, past or future.”
More than 36,000 fans filled Petco Park for the 2022 Holiday Bowl. Home to the San Diego Padres, Petco was specially reconfigured to host a football game.
The college football matchup was won in dramatic, last-minute fashion, with the Oregon Ducks beating the North Carolina Tar Heels, 28-27.
After the game and trophy presentations, which were televised nationally on FOX TV, many in attendance at Petco Park stayed in anticipation of the SkyShow.
The fireworks began at roughly 9:15 p.m. Barely five minutes into the show, the music and the visuals went out of sync.
“It was not your SkyShow of yesteryear,” Dayle Parker Boyd Tedrow noted on Facebook.
“It started out good,” reports attendee Robert Mendoza. “They had video about the KGB SkyShow history. We left when it seemed the fireworks weren’t working, except for the small ones inside.”
Mendoza says after he left Petco and was walking to his car, he heard fireworks going off, again.
Morgan Cartusciello says she had dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter at Social Tap the night before the Holiday Bowl and viewed a rehearsal of the drones lighting up the sky.
“They looked great,” Cartusciello says. “Wonder what happened 24 hours later…?”
Robbie Von Roll says he’s attended KGB SkyShows since 1987. He says this one was depressing.
“Not the huge fireworks SkyShow is known for,” he says. He longs for the “loud bangs that make your ears ring.”
The KGB SkyShow has a vaunted local history, dating back to 1976. Dreamt up by KGB radio executives, it’s believed to be the first fireworks show set to music.
Initially, the show was fired off from two locations in San Diego–Chollas Park and Fiesta Island. The display was an immediate hit, so much so that it created massive traffic jams by onlookers.
The San Diego police and fire departments requested that the show be held at a site that could handle large crowds.
It was moved to Jack Murphy Stadium, which was later renamed Qualcomm Stadium. The SkyShow was incorporated into the home schedule of the San Diego State Aztecs, who previously played games at Qualcomm Stadium.
Qualcomm was demolished in December 2020. The Aztecs began playing in Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley this past season.
The SkyShow has been on hiatus for roughly the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Holiday Bowl show at Petco Park was its first reappearance in three years.
This was the 45th SkyShow, and the night was built up to be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of KGB Radio.
“We will come back from this stronger and better than before–just without drones,” KGB’s Moran says. SDSun