Lights on the Lake Fireworks Display

Lights on the Lake Fireworks Lake Tahoe
Lights on the Lake Fireworks Display Tahoe South

Somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 people will visit Tahoe South to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day with Lights on the Lake Fireworks, the largest synchronized fireworks display west of the Mississippi. Since it is crowded, a good plan is to stake out your piece of beach by late afternoon or early evening. Terrific viewpoints are Lakeview Commons/El Dorado Beach in South Lake Tahoe, and Nevada Beach in between Stateline and Zephyr Cove. To get really close, pay a fee and get underneath the show at Lakeside Beach and at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Make it an experience in old-fashioned Americana: Pack a picnic. Bring your family and friends. Watch the sun slip behind the peaks of Desolation Wilderness… the alpenglow illuminates the ridges… the azure velvet of dusk… and finally, Lake Tahoe shimmering from a waning crescent moon watched over by bright planets Venus and Jupiter. Then the spectacle of lights and colors begins!

Photo credit: Steve Dunleavy

The music and fireworks are synchronized by a computer program onto a CD that triggers the firing of the shells with the music. The music must fit the display and selection – editing the music and fireworks takes a great deal of thought and goes through a number of iterations before the final edition is produced.  The show is shot from three barges anchored near the Stateline area of Lake Tahoe. Loading the barges with more than 3,500 shells is executed by hand and is true muscle-straining work. The days after the show are spent on clean-up by a specially outfitted boat to recover surface flotsam and jetsam, and divers collect debris from the Lake bottom. Interestingly, the fireworks are designed to oxidize and much of the debris collected has actually fallen off private boats or washed off a beach.

As I anticipate this year’s show, I hope for calm winds; a fun, safe experience for visitors and locals; a show that will dazzle my nine year old son as much as the computer games he thrives on, and more – a show that builds a foundation of appreciation for American traditions. I look forward to watching the sky cascade in light and color, and to listening to Ray Charles’ silky delivery of America the Beautiful as I am reminded fireworks are the simulation of munitions and warfare. Our country and the freedom and prosperity we have was paid for by brave men and women who fought, struggled, and sacrificed their lives to form and to preserve our country. We are so fortunate!

Wishing all a very special, fun, safe Independence Day!

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