By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Red Bank’s annual fireworks extravaganza got some serious firepower Friday.
Wells Fargo bank, which recently moved into Broad Street and has become ubiquitous since taking over Wachovia bank, has made the biggest contribution to Kaboom! Fireworks on the Navesink in the event’s history.
The bank will write a check for $45,000 toward the fireworks show, bolstering financial support from other corporate and private donors, officials said at an afternoon press conference at Wells Fargo’s Red Bank branch.
This is a serious shot in the arm for the Independence Day weekend display, which expanded to a three-day event last year featuring amusements, games, a riverfront concert and, as usual, one of the largest pyro displays in the United States.
“It puts us in a much stronger financial situation so that no tax dollars can be used for the fireworks,” said the committee’s executive director, Charles Moran,. “We’re confident that we’re in a good place. We’re in a much better place than we were last year.”
The committee, after losing an annual contribution from the borough of about $60,000 worth of police support and cleanup costs, struggled to make its nut of about $250,000 for the 2010 show. It settled up its debt to the town back in March, and vowed to revamp its funding model for a more sustainable future.
The contribution from Wells Fargo, plus donations from other local corporations, helps accomplish that, the committee’s public relations contact, Christine Burke Eskwitt, said.
“We closed up for last year and we’re moving full steam ahead,” she said.
And because the committee made a partial payment early to the show’s provider, Garden State Fireworks, the display will last an extra five minutes this year, Moran said.
Wells Fargo’s infusion of funds also helped to cover the overtime costs of an additional 25 police officers, Moran said, going toward fulfilling the committee’s pledge to regain control of rowdy crowds and outbursts of violence that appeared heightened last year.
The committee also asked that radio station Z100 not return to the borough this year to broadcast the show, because it felt it attracted a younger crowd prone to starting trouble, Moran said.
The aim, he said, is to make the event more enjoyable.
While the committee will continue as usual to seek donations from the public, plus private fundraisers and charging for premium views, the addition of new corporate sponsors will help buoy Red Bank’s popular tradition, in which upwards of 100,000 people have been estimated to attend, Moran said.
“We hope this is the beginning of a long-time relationship,” Moran said.
Riverview Medical Center, Oppenheimer & Company, Two River Community Bank, the Community YMCA and the Visiting Nurse Association of Central New Jersey all pledged first-time support for the weekend event, he said.