On July 4 2022, a Reddit account shared an informatively titled post to r/funny, “happy 4th of July folks it’s the 11th anniversary of the infamous San Diego fireworks show where they all went off at once”:
Attached to the post was a short clip, 36 seconds long. It depicted a waterside crowd gathered for what appeared to be a Fourth of July event, and what looked like the simultaneous detonation of fireworks, as promised, all at once.
However, the source of the video was not linked to the post. Fireworks are noisy and bright, making an accidental simultaneous detonation difficult to identify in the context of the clip.
Top comments on the post included one comment pointing out that 2012 was ten years prior to 2022 (not eleven), and observations such as:
“There, Happy Fourth. Now get the hell out of here.'”
“I remember watching this from my friends roof in high school it went off half the group missed it and everyone else was sure it was just the opening and we all stood there for like 10 mins in the darkness waiting for the fireworks to start.”
“Ready? BOOM! Alright, that’s it. Go home.”
Google search automatically populated “fireworks” to “San Diego,” also suggesting “San Diego fireworks 2012”; the post title mentioned an eleventh anniversary. Google also suggested a related search, “Did San Diego set off all fireworks at once?”
One of the first links under “San Diego fireworks 2012” was a July 7 2012 YouTube video titled “San Diego Fireworks 2012, LOUD and up close,” with more than ten million views. That footage was roughly the same length, and appeared to match the clip shared to Reddit on July 4 2022.
Also on July 4 2022, KNSD-TV published “10 Years Later: Where Were You When San Diego’s Big Bay Boom Went Bust?” It confirmed San Diego’s 2012 fireworks event occurred as described:
Everybody loves fireworks, sure, but not everybody was a fan when ALL the fireworks went off all at once back in 2012. The catastrophic glitch may have been the biggest boom of them all.
As they normally did every year, thousands of people gathered along the shores of San Diego Bay for what was supposed to be a typical Independence Day celebration. The fireworks — which take months of planning – were ready to go off at 9 p.m. in honor of America’s birthday.
But five minutes before the show, a computer glitch changed the entire night.
A sudden burst of hundreds of fireworks shot into the air — all at once — over the bay, creating a deep, bass rumble throughout downtown. It was a spectacular failure, with the explosions creating a massive light mushroom, a white orb seemingly brighter than the sun, in the sky.
As for why 15 minutes worth of fireworks went off in 30 seconds, the station explained:
“[A] glitch mashed two data files together, creating a third file that commanded all the shells to be fired at once,” NBC News reported a year after the bust.
A popular July 4 2022 r/funny post made a titular claim that in 2012, San Diego “set all the fireworks off at once.” Although the title erroneously described the event as having occurred eleven years prior to 2022 (it was ten), the incident in question occurred as described. A last-minute “computer glitch” caused all fireworks to be spectacularly set off in a 30-second span, instead of the planned 15-minute display.