By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
The weekend extravaganza that is Kaboomfest kicks off Friday night, a three-day indulgence on the banks of our beautiful Navesink that includes rides, amusements, live music and one breathtaking pyrotechnics show that qualifies as one of the country’s largest.
There’s a lot to soak in of the borough’s lauded tradition, from parking to security, to where to catch the show and how to beat out after it’s done.
Your friends at redbankgreen have got you covered, and the articles below touch on all the facets of the show. Below is a shrunken version of those stories, providing a snapshot of what this weekend is all about.
But first, a bit of perspective on the show for any newcomers.
Now in the 52nd year in Red Bank, the fireworks show now known as KaBoom has gone through some growing pains the last year.
In the 2010 edition, alcohol-related problems, including increased incidents of violence put the show’s organizers on the griddle. There was even discussion, because of the sky high cost of putting on the event, of doing away with it altogether.
Responding to the criticism, the fireworks committee hit the refresh button, and the result is a return, they say, to KaBoom’s roots: a family friendly weekend with no room for reprobate behavior.
Red Bank police, at the behest of the borough council, are taking a zero-tolerance approach this year. Security is beefed up to include all members of Red Bank’s police force, plus officers from surrounding towns. They’ll be out in the streets keeping an eye out for any signs of trouble, plus conducting bag and cooler checks for alcohol, which is prohibited in public.
The borough has recommended that anybody acting out of line face the maximum penalty, in some cases, like disorderly conduct, reaching fines of up to $2,500.
“We will try not to tolerate any behavior that is considered anti-social,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said in recent weeks.
(See a statement from the RBPD below)
That goes for the entire weekend, not just Sunday night’s fireworks.
Beginning Friday night, the borough opens its downtown up for games, food and rides which last through the weekend. On Saturday night, the band Human Wheels, a John Mellencamp cover band, headlines at the Riverside Gardens Park stage for the Rock The River concert. Tickets are $10.
On Sunday afternoon, from 3 to 7 p.m., the youth-oriented Kid Kaboom festivities take place. That will include live music, games and crafts hosted by the Community YMCA on Maple Avenue.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, the gates at Riverside Gardens Park open up for Kaboom’s Family, Fun and Fireworks, where, for $10 for adults and $5 for children, you can get an up-close view of the fireworks. As part of the aforementioned revamped fundraising efforts, this is the first year organizers are charging at borough-owned property.
Beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, and running up until the show starts, multiple bands will play at Marine Park, which is one of the best locations to view the fireworks (others are Maple Cove, Riverside Gardens and, if you’re lucky, a private party up against the river).
Then it’s time for the big bang, or bangs, put on by Garden State Fireworks. At about 9 p.m., the company will launch a near 30-minute salvo from the Navesink River into the night sky synchronized with music.
This open-air mastery comes with a price, in terms of money, patience and personal space. As of Thursday, fundraisers had brought in some $200,000 of the expected $275,000 cost of the event, officials said. Volunteers will be out all weekend with bright yellow buckets soliciting donations to defray the balance. So if you think it’s worth a couple of your own bucks, consider dropping a couple into the yellow buckets being waved around this weekend for donations.
Parking is at a premium on Sunday. By 4 p.m. the downtown is essentially cut off, so be sure to arrive early and don’t be afraid to mill around town to see what the town has to offer. All parking lots and garages will open and free of charge, but it’s highly recommended to take advantage of New Jersey Transit’s rail system, which is discounted at $5 round-trip tickets on the North Jersey Coastline. Tickets can be purchased on the transit’s website.
Upwards of 150,000 people pour into Red Bank to catch the fireworks, so the downtown is bound for congestion. Be prepared to rub elbows and maybe even run into a knucklehead or two, but if you do, grab a cop, they’ll be everywhere.
If there’s one thing to remember, committee spokeswoman Judy Musa said, “this is family friendly.”
Here’s a statement issued by the RBPD Friday afternoon:
On Sunday, July 3, 2011 the Borough of Red Bank will be holding its annual Fireworks Display. This event typically draws a crowd of approximately 150,000 people. In order to make this event safe the Red Bank Police Department draws law enforcement resources from throughout Monmouth County and other parts of the state.
This year the Mayor and Council passed a resolution calling for strict enforcement of state statutes and borough ordinances during the evening of the fireworks. To accomplish this, the police department will be increasing the size of its force considerably from previous years and will deploy officers strategically based on past experiences. The overall goal of this initiative is to provide a safe atmosphere for everyone and to continue the event as it was intended, a family oriented evening.
In keeping with the intention of the resolution enacted by the Mayor and Council, the police department will be seeking the maximum allowable fines to be imposed on people charged with disorderly persons and borough ordinance offenses on the evening of the fireworks celebration. Electronic message boards will be placed throughout the town advising attendees of this increased enforcement in hopes that these messages along with the visibly increased police presence will prevent a great deal of unruly behavior that is at times associated with large crowds.
As in previous years numerous road closings will also be in place to ease and direct the flow of traffic and to further provide a safe atmosphere for pedestrians. At 4pm all roads immediately surrounding Marine Park will be closed to vehicular traffic with the exception of emergency traffic accessing Riverview Medical Center. At 6pm all roads in the downtown area between Spring Street and Maple Avenue and north of Harding Road will be closed to all vehicular traffic. Motorists should follow the posted detour pattern. It is recommended that anyone able to utilize mass transit do so, as NJ Transit will be providing increased service on the evening of July 3rd. Motorists who choose to drive into town should allow extra travel time and should expect up to a two hour delay in leaving town after the display.
Capt. Darren McConnell