Ultimate KaBoom! Fireworks Primer
Every single thing you need to know about this fireworks weekend with tons of information and useful links.
It’s nearing that time, time for KaBoom! Fireworks on the Navesink, the annual July 3rd show touted by proud KaBoom officials as the largest fireworks show in New Jersey and second largest countrywide.
You’ve probably made plans on attending already and you’re not alone. After more than 100,000 people descended on Red Bank’s downtown and riverfront last year, the borough is bracing for even larger crowds this time around, with officials preparing for as many as 150,000 people. It’s a premier fireworks show, one that’s grown larger and more expensive in the decades since its inception. And, as you’d most likely suspect, there’s little chance that this spot on the calendar is sneaking up on anyone.
For as much as fun as you know you’re going to have, there’s sure to be at least a thing or two that you don’t know. If you’re looking for information about the fireworks spectacular, we’ve got all you’ll ever need right here in one place. Questions about when to show up, how to get to Red Bank, where to watch the fireworks from, we’ve got all of those answers here too.
There’s going to be a lot to digest. If you’re looking for something in particular, and don’t feel like too much reading, we’ve got it all broken down by category. Simply scroll on down for specific sections covering things like the best viewing areas in town and what to bring and what not to bring if you plan on coming down.
First, a Little About KaBoom:
The 2010 version of the KaBoom! Fireworks show was the largest and most expensive to date. Following this weekend, the 2011 KaBoom! Fireworks show will be the largest and most expensive to date.
According to event organizers, the Navesink River fireworks show is the second largest in the country, tied with Houston’s annual Fourth of July show in number of fireworks shot off, and behind New York City’s annual Independence Day spectacular.
It’s not just the number of fireworks being shot off, but also the enormity of the weekend spectacle. Along with the paying for the actual fireworks, KaBoom, a non-profit dedicated solely to the fireworks show, is responsible for all of the ancillary costs that go along with managing an event that attracts a crowd that’s ten times the population of the town its being held in.
When the fireworks show was first introduced in Red Bank in 1959, it cost approximately $1,700, Danny Murphy, a KaBoom Committee volunteer, said. Last year the show cost more than $200,000 and this year Murphy said the show will cost an estimated $300,000.
Part of the money being spent is to ensure that the fireworks show returns to the community and family atmosphere that once defined it. After last year’s show was criticized because of the unruly behavior of youths engaging in underage drinking and subsequent vandalism and fighting, KaBoom returned this year dedicated to making it all better. That, Murphy said, costs money.
Instead of bailing on the show and bowing to criticism that maybe, perhaps the show had outgrown Red Bank, KaBoom set off to find additional, big-money sponsors to help shoulder the burden. This year, at least, it has.
The Haps This Year:
Though the Sunday fireworks are the highlight of this and every year’s KaBoom for the past 52 years, that’s hardly the only thing there is to offer. Called KaBoomFest, the entire holiday weekend is loaded with music and entertainment for families and visitors of all ages.
Beginning Friday and running all weekend, KaBoom amusements offers rides for children, and carnival games and food. On Saturday, KaBoom turns into Rock the River, a concert featuring local acts, including headliner Human Wheels, a John Mellencamp tribute band. Also performing at the concert are Red Bank fixtures Matt O’Ree Band and Quincy Mumford.
Prior to Sunday night’s fireworks show, which features popular and patriotic tunes is put on by Garden State Fireworks, kids rule. Kid KaBoom runs from the afternoon into the evening with games, races, crafts, and music from the Rock n Music Academy, the Micro Machines, and Little Rockers.
In Marine Park Sunday there will be live music throughout the afternoon and evening. Included acts are Joshua Van Ness and MOR, Pat Guadagno and the Candle Brothers, and Eryn Shewell.
Sunday evening, KaBoom is also hosting a Boardwalk Barbeque in Riverside Gardens throughout the evening. Seats are available to the first 150 ticket purchasers and the food is being catered by Branches. The cost is $140, but those who fork over the cash do get a free t-shirt, so there’s that.
All schedule information can be found at the KaBoom website.
Where to Watch the Fireworks:
Grab a seat along the Navesink River and you’re all set. Sure, that’s easier said than done, especially with public access riverside severely limited in Red Bank and adjacent towns and other prime viewing locations being off-limits. But, that doesn’t mean you’re left out, especially if you don’t mind enjoying the view along with thousands of other eager spectators.
In Red Bank there are several locations you can park yourself, the three most popular being Marine Park, the Red Bank Public Library, and Riverside Gardens. For the first time, however, access to Riverside, a public park, is restricted to the first 2,000 people who buy tickets. As part of the returning to a family friendly atmosphere plan developed by KaBoom, Red Bank Council agreed to allow the fireworks committee to charge for access to Riverside. Tickets for adults are $10 a piece and for children under 10 the cost is just $5. There’s still time to order tickets in advance for a discount.
For those who are willing to pay for what has always been a free event, there are a number of options in Red Bank. Proceeds from the sale of seats at prime locations help KaBoom defray the cost of the fireworks. In addition to Riverside Gardens, there’s the option of buying tickets to sit in a fenced-off section of Marine Park right along side the river and on the K. Hovanian lawn on Maple Avenue. Tickets for these two locations are sold in packs of four for $100.
The Red Bank Elks on West Front Street, located right next to Riverside Gardens, are offering a viewing party on their lawn. For $50 a person – the price is considerably less for children – not only do you get a prime viewing spot, but also all you can eat cookout fare along with draft beer, wine, and soda.
Your best bet is likely anywhere you can grab a view of the sky. Though it doesn’t look like much, the lawn at the library is quite spacious. The best bet for most will likely be Marine Park, which has the space to accommodate tens of thousands of people. If you like, you can also find some decent vantage points throughout the borough’s downtown. Prior to the fireworks show, Red Bank Police are closing down vehicle access to large parts of downtown, making streets safe for walking and, as the case may be, fireworks viewing.
Of course, if you have a boat, there’s always watching the show from the river.
Getting to and from Red Bank:
Red Bank officials do not want you to drive. In a release issued Tuesday afternoon, the borough has asked that all spectators consider utilizing public transportation before thinking about driving. Considering that a decent-weather weekend night spells disaster for parking-spot seekers even when there isn’t a special event going on, you can imagine the frustration drivers will feel this upcoming weekend.
Just a suggestion: if you have to drive, get to Red Bank early to find a spot and consider leaving late to avoid likely traffic jams through major thoroughfares, especially Route 35.
According to a release from Red Bank concerning road closures during KaBoomFest, the road into Marine Park will be off-limits at 5am on the morning of July 3rd. Access roads leading to the park, including Wharf Avenue, Boat Club Land and Union Street will be closed at 4pm. Vehicle access to Red Bank’s downtown will be closed off at 6pm and no cars will be allowed north of Harding Road between Maple Avenue and Spring Street after this time.
The best bet for those coming out of town is the train. In response to increased demand, NJ TRANSIT is offering a special $5 day-pass on July 3 only for riders coming into Red Bank from North Jersey Coast Line stations from Bay Head to Matawan-Aberdeen. The Red Bank Train Station is only about a half mile from Marine Park making it an ideal choice for those looking to avoid delays of up to two hours entering and leaving Red Bank before and after the fireworks.
The train tickets can be purchased in advance online.
A no shenanigans policy has been enacted by Red Bank and yes, they really mean it this time. In response to public outcry concerning a number of incidents of underage drinking and fighting, Red Bank Police Department is stepping up patrols and enforcement throughout the weekend.
Capt. Darren McConnell said the borough has contracted a number of police officers from adjacent towns to help give the Red Bank Police Department a more visible presence during the festivities. Unlike in previous years, McConnell said police would be seen on every corner in an attempt to not only catch troublemakers in the act, but to hopefully change their minds before they decide to, as Mayor Pat Menna called it, engage in “anti-social” behavior.
What this means to the rest of you is a little “for your own protection,” police intrusion. In cracking down on public drunkenness, the police are not only announcing that drinking in public is, of course, illegal, but that they will be searching bags and coolers at various checkpoints set up at the parks and in downtown Red Bank.
If you want a beer, head to a bar because the police aren’t having it. Red Bank’s council passed a resolution earlier this month calling for maximum penalties to be issued to violators. McConnell said police will also make fewer warnings and more arrests, if needed, to help turn around perceptions that KaBoom has become an unruly affair.