Faced with the ever-rising costs associated with putting on a fireworks show that attracts more than 100,000 people annually, the KaBoom executive committee has made the decision to cancel this year's July 3rd fireworks show.
According to a release from the KaBoom committee, the "inability to meet soaring security costs and insurance premiums as well as the difficulty of monitoring public safety" are the prime reasons for the show's cancelation.
The first fireworks show over the Navesink was held in Red Bank in 1959 and has been an annual tradition ever since. In recent years, however, as the number of attendees has swelled, so too has the cost. For the past few years, the show has cost the KaBoom committee, a non-profit that has relied heavily on contributions from local businesses, upwards of $250,000 to host the 30-odd minute show.
“Following a several month-long process of examination and discussion, the KaBoom executive committee has concluded that KaBoom as we know it is not sustainable in the current economy, taking into account escalating costs to maintain public safety coupled with the increasing costs of products and services related to the event,” KaBoom Committee Chairman Tim Hogan said in a release. “KaBoom is a victim of its own success. Each year brought increasing numbers of visitors to Red Bank, especially as towns throughout New Jersey cancelled their own Fourth of July fireworks displays. Our security costs doubled in the last three years, and although we raised more money in 2011 than ever before, we continued to incur a deficit with each succeeding year.”
Danny Murphy, a member of the KaBoom Committee and owner of Danny's Steakhouse, said the first year the fireworks show was held it cost $1,700. In 2010, the KaBoom paid more than $40,000 in police costs alone.
With more than 100,000 descending on Red Bank each year, police have been pushed to their limits. Last year, even with stormy weather shrinking the crowd a bit, local law enforcement, stocked with reinforcements from police departments throughout the county, still had trouble keeping things under control as reports of public intoxication and fighting were widespread.
In addition to donations collected at the event, a small sum compared to the overall costs, as well as gifts from local businesses, the borough was an annual contributor to the event, too. Not this year, however, as rising municipal costs saw the borough beg off helping fund the 50-plus year tradition.
“While we haven’t closed the door to some type of celebration taking place in future, currently there are no plans to replace KaBoom with other fireworks or a different type of celebration," Mayor Pat Menna said in a release. "As towns across the country are making tough economic choices, we need to focus Red Bank’s funds on core municipal services.”
Ultimately, Hogan said it may have been the rain the finished off the fireworks show. Though the show itself was not impacted by inclement weather, the weekend was largely a bust thanks to consistent and heavy rainfall. Previous, largely-attended leadups to the fireworks show like the a concert series and kiddie carnival saw small crowds. Fundraising at these events struggled.
It is unclear how, if, and when the show will go on in the future.