An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people of all ages, races and backgrounds descended on the Pier district to catch a glimpse of the drone light show July 31. Many more watched by boat. They were all there to witness 300 drones affixed with LED lights synchronously dance over Tampa Bay, in between the Pier and Spa Beach.
“First, my thanks to Duke Energy for sponsoring the St. Pete Pier’s one-year anniversary drone show,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said to the Catalyst. “It was wonderful to see so many people at the Pier and along St. Pete’s waterfront to celebrate one of our city’s best places to be.”
The drones flew together to form images celebrating St. Petersburg’s most beloved traditions – baseball bats, IndyCars, solar panels, and beer mugs were just some of the images that hovered over the bay. A giant pelican that formed and then swooped down over the water seems to have garnered the most attention on social media. While the drones were quiet, the night was not.
The drones danced in harmony to carefully curated hits from the ’60s to today. When a giant sun with St. Pete’s nickname – The Sunshine City – written inside appeared, “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles played loudly throughout the area. The popular pelican flew to the sounds of Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away.”
“Tampa Bay has never seen anything like the drone show,” Kriseman said, “and it’s my hope we can bring them back again soon.”
Benjamin Kirby, Communications Director for Kriseman, said the show cost $200,000; traditional fireworks, he added, cost around $35,000.
“Supporting the vitality of the communities we serve is important to us,” said Ana Gibbs, Corporate Communications for Duke Energy.
“We have invested in the St. Pete Pier in a variety of ways, including the solar canopy above the parking lot, the EV chargers, and provided funding to the Tampa Bay Watch location on the Pier.”
Firefly Drone Shows orchestrated the display. The formations fly around 400 feet in the air and are approximately 700 feet across at their widest – about the length of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Each drone moves up to 15 mph and has three LED lights attached. The lights produce 3,400 lumens apiece, while a standard halogen headlight emits about 700 lumens.