Drones put on a show for Fourth of July in a first for La Jolla

Photo gallery and videos


La Jolla celebrated the Fourth of July with its first drone show, courtesy of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. The 15-minute spectacle of lights featured a fleet of 100 drones flying about 350 feet above The Shores.

The multicolored drones, unaccompanied by music, played to a packed house of beach-goers, many of whom cheered the various patriotic images created by the flying formations.

At several points, the fireworks at the La Jolla Country Club were visible, creating a contrast between technology and tradition.

The drone show also could be seen from La Jolla Cove, where a smaller crowd gathered to watch from a distance, though some images, such as “La Jolla” and “USA,” were hard to decipher from the different angle.

Beach & Tennis Club President Bill Kellogg said the turnout for the event was “fantastic” and that “it was great to see people show up in droves. People seemed to enjoy it.”

Kellogg acknowledged that spectators at The Cove had a backward view of some images, and he said he spoke with Drone Studio, which facilitated the display, about increasing the degree of rotation so the images can be seen as intended by a wider audience.

“This year’s show only had a 30-degree rotation because they were focused on Kellogg Park and the images were designed to be seen from that side,” Kellogg said. “But if we have the event next year, they can rotate the images more.”

Kellogg said he “absolutely” wants to have the show again, but it will hinge on funding. At $250 a drone, this year’s event cost $25,000 to produce. Organizers used funds that had been raised for the 2020 Fourth of July fireworks display that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d love to get community support to continue and expand it and maybe add music,” Kellogg said. “There is great potential to add more drones and make the displays a little more elaborate.”

A Fourth of July fireworks show — once a long-running tradition at La Jolla Cove — has not been held since 2017. Conventional fireworks are not allowed at nearby Scripps Park — the site of past shows — due to the seasonal closure of Point La Jolla that was implemented in 2022 and is in effect from May through October. The city of San Diego plans to extend that closure to year-round.

The fireworks display was not held in 2021 for lack of a needed permit or in 2020 because of the pandemic. The previous two years it was canceled due to lack of funding.

“We felt it was important to have some kind of celebration for the community,” Kellogg said last month. “For a long time, we waited for the fireworks to come back, and when it seemed like that wasn’t going to happen, we decided on an alternative route.”

He said tax-deductible donations to support future drone shows can be made at ◆