SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Before Thursday's Independence Day festivities in Santa Barbara comes the tough task of setting it all up.
Volunteers built a stage and prepped hundreds of fireworks Wednesday, a massive task for a not-so-massive crew.
"We have a team, small but mighty," said Roger Perry, an organizer for the event. "There's basically a four to five member core. All community volunteers. There's nothing going on where anybody is making any money here. And all of our costs are raised philanthropically through local businesses."
More than ten thousand people from near and far are expected make their way to West Beach on Thursday for a party powered by local ambition.
"We are so fortunate to live in one of the greatest cities in the world," Perry said. "Where you can have community, volunteers and our local business make sure that this element is preserved."
Perry's favorite part of organizing the event is seeing people enjoying the day.
"The most gratifying thing is seeing smiles on the faces of the audience," Perry said. "But even more importantly, when we're catering to the children, is seeing the parents just beaming."
A stage just west of Stearn's Wharf will see nine straight hours of music and entertainment Thursday, beginning at noon. Local bands will perform throughout the day. NewsChannel 3's John Palminteri and local emcee Drew Wakefield will co-host the festivities for the fourth straight year.
Wakefield sported a red, white and blue cowboy hat and carried a large American flag at the beach Wednesday. He says the event is invigorating, not draining.
"I feast off the excitement," Wakefield said. "I love it. There's a lot of action. And throughout the day the crowds continue to grow."
At 9 p.m. comes the grand finale: a 20-minute fireworks display, shot off from a fenced-off sand bunker on the beach.
In recent years, the annual show has used roughly 700 shells worth $40,000.
"They don't want anybody to go on the other side of the fence, ever," Wakefield said. "Period. The [fireworks] that are in there, they're all licensed, they're bonded, they have to go through a little security checkpoint… They're gonna go straight up in the air. They're making a lot of noise with a lot of color and a lot of people having smiles on their faces. Other than that… I do know that they're safe."
Organizers stress that people coming to the beach Thursday should keep their fireworks at home. Dogs are also not allowed on the beach.
Alcohol is prohibited as well, as organizers want to create a family-friendly atmosphere meant to keep everyone safe and bring everyone together.
"It doesn't matter what side of the aisle you're on, doesn't matter what side of the street you're from," Wakefield said. "If you're an American you gotta love the Fourth of July because it's our birthday. We should all come together, we should celebrate."
NOON Show open Old Spanish Days Dancers
1 pm The Ben Catch Project
2 pm Let Flo Go
3 pm The Santa Barbara Trombone Society
3:45 pm La Boheme Dancers
4:00 pm The Alive!
5:00 pm The Beach Grass String Band
5:45 pm La Boheme Dancers
6:00 pm The Brian Faith Band
7:15 pm Superstoked
8:45 pm Patriotic Grand Finale
9:00 pm FIREWORKS!
Simulcasting music with 92.9 KJEE Video coverage by KEYT.com
Hosts: Drew Wakefield and John Palminteri
WOODY'S BBQ, tri-tip, hamburgers, corn on the cob.
TINKERS hot dogs.
LIDO's Philly Cheesesteaks
UNCORKED - Lobster Rolls, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Apple Pie and ice cream
CATERING BY RENE - Burritos
KETTLEMASTERS Kettle Popcorn Corn
Mely's - Fiesta and summer fashion and hats
Tere Jurado Jewelry designer - necklaces, bracelets and rings
Quest by Magdalena
Michael Hammer and the Armand Hammer Foundation
The City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation PARC Foundation
The Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach Foundation
Consumer Fire Products
Montecito Bank & Trust
American Riviera Bank
The Berry Man
Ablitt's Fine Cleaners
The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization
Visit Santa Ynez
Dario Pini Investments / Ala Mar / Villa Rosa hotels
The Eyeglass Factory
A special thank you to the Waterfront, Police, Fire, and Public Works departments. Kim Stabile, Roger Perry, Hector Hurtado, and DSR audio.