By JOHN T. WARD
For five years, the two towns put on simultaneous, mirror-image fireworks displays just miles apart on the Navesink River.
But the decision announced Wednesday by the KaBoom Fireworks organizing committee to shelve the Red Bank show in all likelihood means there also will be no fireworks anchored around the Oceanic Bridge between Rumson and Middletown this year, Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl tells redbankgreen.
“We’re probably not going to be able to go ahead,” he said.
Operating as one of the shore’s best little secrets, the Rumson show was an exact replica of the KaBoom show except for the size of the shells, which were smaller. The shows were synched to the same timer and music track.
Unlike the Red Bank show, however, Rumson’s event was financed by the private Rumson Foundation, with a relatively small group of well-heeled donors picking up the cost.
Though that funding would appear unaffected this year, “we’ve lost the economy of scale” of buying two shows from the same provider, Garden State Fireworks, which saved both shows 10 to 15 percent off the fee they would otherwise have paid, Ekdahl said.
But of greater concern, he said, is that Rumson can’t absorb even a small fraction of the crowd that the Red Bank cancellation might steer its way, he said.
The Rumson event, which typically drawns 15,000 to 18,000 spectators, mostly to the area of the Oceanic Bridge, “couldn’t take even 10 percent” of the estimated 100,000 that Red Bank draws, Ekdahl said.
Ekdahl said the foundation’s board has not met to decide the fate of its show, but he expects it to be cancelled.
“We did it for five years, at no cost to taxpayers, and everybody loved it, so it’s kind of sad, actually,” he said.