Super Bowl City blasts off with Bay Lights, fireworks

San Francisco’s Super Bowl festivities have begun with a Bay-sized bang, packing plenty of pyrotechnic punch and powerhouse vocals from Bay Area rock icon Chris Isaak.

Beginning Saturday around 7:30 p.m., spectators and fans inside the free Super Bowl City at Justin Herman Plaza were treated to a 12-minute firework spectacular filled with football fanfare and exploding hues of gold, white and blue.

The shells, which numbered about 15,000, were launched thousands of feet into the air from two floating barges near the Bay Bridge, according to statements released by officials from NFL ceremony sponsor Macy’s.

The fireworks also welcomed the permanent installation of “The Bay Lights,” the sculptural light show adorning the 1.8-mile western span of the Bay Bridge. Created by large-scale, site-specific artist Leo Villareal, the illuminated artwork consists of 25,000 LED lights programmed to twinkle and shift into various designs and patterns.

Photos by Emma Chiang/SFBay

First installed in 2013 as part of the Bay Bridge’s 75th anniversary, the lights were removed by Caltrans last March for a more durable alternative. Now, they are to shine brilliantly forevermore due in part to ILLUMINATE, an artistic non-profit created to help fund the public art piece.

Those who missed the inaugural lights show need not worry.  There will be another similar show Feb. 5 at 10 p.m. at the Embarcadero-based Super Bowl City, in conjunction with other free, public concerts.

Isaak, who also inaugurated the Super Bowl City stage Saturday evening, is famously known for his sultry 1989 single “Wicked Game,” whose Herb Ritts-directed music video featured model Helena Christensen topless.

The Stockton native kicked off his main stage set with a fitting tribute to our host city, “San Francisco Days.”

Upcoming main stage headliners include multiple Grammy-winner Alicia Keys, pop rock act One Republic and country darlings The Band Perry.

Super Bowl 50 will take place Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Check back to SFBay for all your Super Bowl-related coverage, including game day coverage from the press box at Levi’s Stadium.