Fiery Fourth

Fiery Fourth

Three great options are in store on Independence Day

By Carl Kozlowski 07/03/2014

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Everyone loves fireworks on the Fourth of July, but Pasadena officials always need to remind residents that firing their own displays in the Crown City and across Los Angeles County is patently illegal. But local pyrotechnic enthusiasts never have to fear a lackluster holiday, since the Rose Bowl has been hosting the longest-running show in Southern California for the past 88 years — and the largest fireworks show in the Southland — with AmericaFest.  


Along with fireworks, AmericaFest will also feature live musical performances and a motorcycle stunt exhibition.


Meanwhile, the Levitt Pavilion will provide a rocking alternative to the Rose Bowl festivities with its own epic rock concert in the middle of Memorial Park as part of its summer concert season. The Night Train Music Club will be bringing together a stellar group of veteran musicians under the stars, while still being in view of the Rose Bowl fireworks. 


The Night Train features a full load of a dozen musicians, including former Michael Jackson bassist Alphonso Johnson and drummer Michael Jerome, who backed longtime critical favorites Richard Thompson and John Cale. Joining them are Stevie Nicks’ percussionist Ramon Yslas, Tears for Fears keyboardist Peter Adams, Rolling Stones’ touring saxophonist Joe Sublett and Jackson Browne guitarist Mark Goldenberg. 


Leading the ensemble are vocalists Steve and Suzan Postell, who are joined for this special show by guest drummer Kenwood Dennard and featured performers Tom Freund, Dan Navarro and Amilia Spicer. Best of all is the fact that the show — like all the performances in the Levitt series — is free, making this an event that families can easily enjoy. 


For those looking for some old-fashioned small-town fun in the daytime leading up to the two big events, head over to Sierra Madre, where the Sierra Madre Civic Club Fourth of July Games will be held starting at 12:30 p.m., after a community picnic at 11 a.m. The games will include three-legged races, sack races, wheelbarrow races and other family-friendly games, all celebrating freedom by offering free admission to all who choose to participate or simply watch. 


The fun at the Rose Bowl’s AmericaFest event kicks off officially at 7 p.m., with a ceremonial presentation of colors and a performance of the national anthem leading into live motorcycle stunts by the TNT performance group. From there, the fun evolves into two big musical performances, as a hot new singer on the teen pop scene, Ian Thomas, tries to replicate his overseas success with several No. 1 hits by performing his debut US single “Slow Down.” 


Thomas will be setting the stage for a tribute to the original teen idols of rock, the Beatles, as the Grammy-nominated group Liverpool Legends brings its show “The Ultimate Beatles Experience” to Pasadena in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ invasion of America. With its members handpicked by George Harrison’s sister, Louise Harrison, the Legends lay claim to being the only Beatles tribute band with a direct biological link to the Fab Four. 


Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without AmericaFest’s famed fireworks show, which will close out the night in style starting at 9:15 p.m. The fiery festivities have been produced for the past 35 years by the family-operated Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, which has gained fame for its work with both NFL Super Bowls and the Olympic Games.



AmericaFest starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena. General admission is $13, with reserved seats $25. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit Tickets also available at the gates.

Night Train Music Club performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Levitt Pavilion in Memorial Park, 85 E. Holly St., Pasadena. Admission is free. Visit

The Sierra Madre Civic Club Fourth of July Games will be played at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Sierra Vista Park, 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. A community picnic precedes the games, starting at 11 a.m. Admission is free. Call (626) 355-2166 or visit 


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