Red Bank Cancels Fourth of July Fireworks
RED BANK —The committee organizing the annual KaBoom! Fireworks on the Navesink display announced today it has canceled its plans for the annual event.
Those involved with the event’s organizing sited the rising cost to provide the necessary increasing police presence and security considerations, higher insurance costs and the ever difficulty in raising the necessary contributions to support the event, as well as the continuing difficult economy, as the major factors for the decision.
The event is often cited as the borough’s largest of the year, traditionally bringing in as much as hundreds of thousands of visitors to the borough, mostly into the downtown business area, to view the pyrotechnic display. Last year’s event cost approximately $300,000, said Charles Moran, the KaBoom Committee’s executive director.
“KaBoom is a victim of its own success,” Tim Hogan, committee chairman, said in a released press statement. “Every year brought increasing numbers of visitors to Red Bank, especially as towns throughout New Jersey cancelled their own Fourth of July fireworks displays. Our security costs doubled in the last three years, and although we raised more money in 2011 than ever before, we continued to incur a deficit with each succeeding year.”
On Tuesday, Moran said the fundraising this year was sufficient to cover the event’s costs. However, given the unsettled weather for last July 3, attempts to collect donations from the crowd on hand lagged behind the previous year, raising only $14,500, compared to 2010’s $24,800. The committee did bring in additional corporate support last year.
Another difficult hurdle for the committee was the loss of financial support from the borough. Back in 2010, officials announced they wouldn’t be able to provide the traditional approximately $60,000 used to underwrite police overtime and security measures.
“Red Bank, as a municipality, does not have the ability to fund these particular types of public events,” given the loss of state aid, Mayor Pasquale Menna said.
“We have a population facing financial difficulties in terms of maintaining their homes,” Menna explained about the borough’s decision. “So, we can’t fund or contribute in any fashion something that is perceived by the vast majority of the population as not critical to the operation of government, which is to maintain public safety and health.”
Two years ago, as the event fell on Saturday there were a number of disruptions and orderly persons arrests that caused Menna to ask the committee to address security for the day to ensure the event would proceed as a family friendly one. And that meant a higher police presence and costs, as local police were supported by a number of area departments and county authorities.
And the effects of those arrests and incidents linger on. “There are still lawsuits going on with some of the personal injuries from people getting out of hand,” the mayor said. “And the taxpayers and the insurance companies for Red Bank are still paying for it.”
“It’s the responsible thing to do at this point,” he said.But Menna and Hogan did leave the door open for the fireworks display to be rebooted and continued in the future.
“At this point we stand ready to work with the town of Red Bank,” Hogan said.