RUMSON FIREWORKS STILL UP IN THE AIR

A YouTube video of the fireworks in Rumson last year. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Now that Red Bank has decided to move forward with KaBoom ’11 with a couple of changes, leadership at the other end of the Navesink can start talking about its own fireworks show.

First question: Will there be one?

More than likely, said John Ekdahl, mayor of Rumson — which puts on a scaled-down replica of the same fireworks display Red Bank has, at half the cost and a fraction of the crowd. But a final decision won’t be made until the Rumson Endowment Fund Committee, which helps fund special events in the borough, meets in the middle of February, Ekdahl said.

Before that happens, though, officials want to meet with Kaboom! committee members to untangle the lines of communication between the two boroughs, Ekdahl said.

“We want get the scoop for Kaboom! as far as what they’re up to and whether or not they’re going to have it,” Ekdahl said.

KaBoom!, which plays no part in Rumson’s fundraising and coordination of its lights show, needs to work with Rumson to guarantee that Red Bank’s show will go on as it has for decades.

Rumson, entering its fourth year piggybacking on the massive fireworks display, goes as Red Bank goes. The borough wasn’t even sure that there would be fireworks this year until last week.

“I was a little bit surprised about it because I was led to believe, by the mayor actually, they’ll probably be gone. We knew we wouldn’t go for it if Red Bank wouldn’t go for it,” Ekdahl said. “Now that we have this news, we’ll see (whether) the endowment fund wants to do it or not.”

Assuming it does, fundraising efforts in Rumson will continue as usual: through private donations — no buckets, no thermometers, no public appeals. Or, at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

But without the knowledge of Rumson, the Kaboom! website set up a tab for sponsors to donate to the borough’s fireworks. Ekdahl couldn’t explain it.

“They never checked with us, I can tell you that,” he said. “I was kind of shocked to see the website, to be honest.”

The Rumson sponsorship tab has since been removed from the site. Vice President Charles Moran said through an email he couldn’t speak to the fireworks in Rumson because Kaboom! isn’t directly involved in its show.

More importantly, Rumson wants an assurance that there will be fireworks in Red Bank so the endowment can start planning its own show. Red Bank officials moved two weeks ago to add fees for waterfront views and discussed beefing up security, an indication that one of the country’s largest fireworks displays will return for another year.

“Before we do any fundraising at all, we have to be certain that this thing is coming off,” Ekdahl said. “But we want to have it. It’s been very successful for us.”

Raising money for the show, which costs around $100,000, Ekdahl said, could get tricky this year. Normally bankrolled by a few residents with deep pockets and a smattering of smaller donations from locals, Ekdahl couldn’t predict if people would be as willing to open up their checkbooks this year, given the economy and last year’s near-miss in hitting its fundraising mark.

When word got out that Rumson was about $30,000 short, a few big checks came in, Ekdahl said.

“I don’t want to play that game again this year. I’m a little worried about it again because the economy is not much better than it was last year,” he said. “I think this year we can tell people, ‘if everybody just gives what they did last year, we’ll have a show.'”

Ekdahl said he’s working on setting up a meeting with Kaboom! members next week, and the endowment fund will make a decision on Rumson’s fireworks the following week.