kaboom-rides-062910A Ferris wheel and other rides were set up Tuesday in a vacant lot opposite Riverside Gardens Park. (Click to enlarge)

Now taking shape on West Front Street in Red Bank: a carnival of sorts.

Six rides, five games and chance and booths offering midway fare such as cotton candy began setting up in a vacant lot opposite Riverside Gardens Park yesterday, giving shape to an expanded KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink that this year runs for three days instead the traditional single day.

Also on the bolstered agenda: a free concert in Marine Park featuring four acts, including “Crossing Jordan” star Jill Hennessy, now moonlighting as a singer-songwriter.

The carnival, which opens Thursday, is on the site of the former Meridian nursing home, which was torn down to make room for condos that remain unbuilt. Use of the land was donated by the owner, says Charles Moran, vice chairman of the nonprofit KaBoom. The site is accessible directly from the White Street municipal parking lot, as well as from West Front.

Bringing in the carnival, which was planned before the the borough government halted funding for police and trash-pickup, is seen as a way of offsetting the cost of staging the fireworks event, estimated at about $250,000, Moran says.

With income from the carnival, “we think if we have good weather all three days, we could make a good dent in the police overtime bill” of about $60,000, he tells redbankgreen. (At the moment, the forecast suggests that the weather will cooperate.)

Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 1 through 3: Rides and games of chance for kids of all ages. Carnival favorites, plus great food from Red Bank establishments. Hours: Thursday, 5p to 10p; Friday, 5 to 11p; and Saturday, noon to 11p.

Friday, July 2: KaBoom Rock the River Free Concert. Opening act is Jill Hennessy, the award-winning actress from Law & Order and Crossing Jordan who has moved on to a musical career. Jill is followed by the Matt O’Ree Band, Jo Wymer and the Itty Bitty Band, and Red Bank’s own Woodfish.

The concert will be held in Marine Park from 6 to 10p.

Saturday, July 3: KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink. The annual fireworks extravaganza, New Jersey’s largest fireworks display by the Santori family of Garden State Fireworks, will be simulcast on Q104.3FM. The festivities begin in Marine Park at 3p. Fireworks go off at approximately 9p. VIP and Friends of KaBoom dinner/viewing packages are available. Call 732-842-7337 or visit the KaBoom site .

And here’s a map that calls out the amusements area and two select viewing locations.