Thousands gathered in Huntington Beach for one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in California Tuesday night. 

Over one of the hottest holiday weekends, many people opted to keep things cool by heading to the beach, and in Orange County, four days of Independence Day festivities attracted close to 500,000 people.  

Organizers of the Huntington Beach celebration say it’s the largest Fourth of July celebration west of the Mississippi, and for many people, attending is a family affair.  

“We’ve been coming here since I was little,” Jose Montenegro told KTLA. “I grew up in Santa Ana, so when [my daughter] was born, we just started bringing her and it became tradition.”  

Jasmine, Montenegro’s daughter, was quick to explain her favorite part of the fireworks show.  

“It’s because I love them popping out of the sky,” she said.  

Adam Ligorria and his extended family drove two hours from Riverside specifically for the show’s finale fireworks by the pier with a front-row ocean view.  

“I think it’s getting bigger, it’s growing,” Ligorria said. “I can see the difference from last year, a lot of people here, good crowd, good music, good food. I think everyone should come down and check it out.” 

For Joaquin Suarez, who is stationed at Fort Irwin Army Base in San Bernardino, the holiday takes on a special meaning.  

“I joined to serve this country. So, it’s like a special day for me and my guys in the military,” he explained.  

The Fourth of July celebrations in Huntington Beach date back more than 100 years.