After a dark year, Big Bang on the Bay is set to return on July 3

The patriotic pyrotechnic party Big Bang on the Bay, will return on July 3, Independence Day Eve, lighting up the skies over the Peninsula and Naples, as well as the restaurants along the Alamitos Bay Marina.

After drawing huge crowds at bayside restaurants and sparking private parties in some of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods and yacht clubs since 2011, the event fizzled out last year thanks to COVID-19, which squeezed the joy out of every celebration from St. Patrick’s Day to New Year’s Eve.

“This is going to be the first big event since COVID,” said John Morris, general manager of Boathouse on the Bay and the Big Bang’s founder and organizer.

Just how big the event will be still depends on the state of the pandemic locally. Morris says it’s still unclear what restrictions will be in place at the beginning of July in terms of mandatory face-coverings, the number of people who will be allowed in, rules regarding the serving of food and other regulations that have still prevented many businesses, particularly restaurants and bars, from flinging open their doors back to the old normal.

The event is largely funded by residents of the Peninsula and Naples and yacht owners, who are hit up annually by Morris to help cover the expense of the fireworks and other entertainment that goes on throughout the late afternoon and evening, including aircraft flyovers, skydivers and music spun by DJ Ron.

Those who aren’t invited to private parties can attend the party at the Boathouse, where a ticket gets you entrance to the restaurant’s Block Party, a seat at a table just yards from the fireworks barge, and a barbecue dinner provided by Naples Rib Company.

Other restaurants in the area, including Malainey’s, Ballast Point, San Pedro Fish Market and those at 2nd & PCH will also be offering seats with views of the fireworks show.

Proceeds from the Boathouse party go to local charities, with the main benefactor this year being Long Beach-based Children Today, whose mission is to foster stability and success in children and families who are facing homelessness or maltreatment or who are involved in the child welfare system. The event has raised close to a million dollars for local charities since its inception.

The Boathouse event will begin at 6 p.m.; fireworks start at 9 p.m. sharp.

Tickets to the Big Bang Block Party, at $50, will be available at the Boathouse website or by calling 562-493-1100.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.