The video: Thousands of onlookers camped out along San Diego's beaches Wednesday night to view a Fourth of July fireworks display that organizers hyped as "bigger and more intense than in past years." Depending on your point of view, the 12th annual Big Bay Boom either lived up to that billing — and then some — or was an unrivaled, embarrassing disappointment. Thanks to a technical glitch, hundreds of fireworks that were expected to start going off at 9 p.m. and last for 18 minutes prematurely launched all at once at 8:55 p.m. The resulting explosive display lasted a mere 15 seconds. (Watch the video below.) The Port of San Diego later explained that the mistake was caused by technicians who sent the wrong signal to the barges the fireworks were being launched from. The force of the simultaneous explosions was so great that San Diego residents reported feeling a large rumble throughout downtown.
The reaction: Ouch, says Katie Kindelman at ABC News. As one onlooker aptly put it on Twitter, "Ooooo ahhh. Said no one in San Diego bay." Don't be so quick to label this a failure, says Maura Judkis at The Washington Post. Perhaps it's "unintentional art" — "a meditation on excess, and a bit of wish fulfillment"; after all, most of us have wondered what would happen if all the fireworks were set off at once. And those who witnessed the catastrophe should actually count themselves lucky, says Maane Khatchatourian at Entertainment Weekly. "Despite the show's brevity, the massive ball of apocalyptic-looking explosions were breathtaking in their own right." See for yourself: