EXACT SAME SHOW, 1/20TH THE HASSLE?
The view from Victory Park in Rumson last year.
Hey, it was bound to get out anyway.
For the second year in a row, Rumson will be home to a spectacular July 3 fireworks display to rival that of its far more famous neighbor, Red Bank.
No, check that. It doesn’t rival Red Bank’s kaboomery; it matches it. Exactly.
Same shells, fired at exactly the same time, to the same music, in a skyfire display run off the same computer program by the same world-famous fireworks company, Garden State Fireworks.
“The two shows are absolutely the same, but 3.5 miles apart,” Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl tells redbankgreen. “I have trouble communicating that. People are incredulous when I tell them.”
Incredulous, perhaps, because the Red Bank show billed as the state’s largest is believed to turn some 150,000 pairs of eyeballs to the sky over the Navesink River, while Rumson’s rookie effort attracted just 7,500 pairs, and a proportionally smaller traffic jam.
Incredulous, too, because while Red Bank volunteers have to hustle $10 and $20 donations to cover the estimated $175,000 cost of the show, Rumsonites kick back with their chilled chardonnay on someone else’s very large dime. Ekdahl says a small number of well-heeled borough residents and some from neighboring Middletown, thank you very much quietly pass the straw boater to drum up the estimated $100,000 cost of theirs. (The cost difference between the two shows, Ekdahl says, reflects the amount of security that has to be paid for.)
Fundraising “is very low key and very quiet,” says Ekdahl. “Remember, these are people who are paying $100,000 a year each in property taxes. For them, giving $5,000 or $10,000 is no big deal.”
So Red Bank = Obama, and Rumson = McCain? Sounds about right, actually…
It should be noted, however, that Rumson’s inaugural show wasn’t without problems. Early on, an errant shell landed on one of the two barges from which the fireworks were launched and burned through a cable, knocking out nearly half the display.
The folks at Garden State were “devastated,” Ekdahl says, so much so that they came back at for the town’s Christmas tree lighting and put on a flawless show at a deep discount. That event, too, is expected to become an annual one, he says.
But out-of-towners hoping to take advantage of Rumson’s kabooms could encounter some obstacles. For one, getting there can be a trick. Anyone traveling from the west will either have to contend with Red Bank’s throttled streets or do a workaround. Southbounders from Locust northward could find themselves in a bottleneck at the Oceanic Bridge one of two primo viewing spots (the other is in Victory Park on East River Road). The bridge will be closed to all but emergency vehicles.
And once they get there, there aren’t too many accessible viewing places. If you don’t arrive early enough to stake out a public spot, you’ll need to cozy up to a billionaire with a riverside estate, pronto.
All that, of course, works to Rumson’s advantage. As much as possible, the town would like to keep a lid on this.
“Frankly, we don’t want 30,000 people,” Ekdahl says. “I don’t think our infrastructure can handle it.”
Publicity for the event has been limited to sending a notice to residents, he says.