By Thomas A. Arnone
The tourism season in Monmouth County got off to a great big start this past weekend when up to 40,000 visitors per day descended upon Asbury Park for the return of the Bamboozle music festival.
There was plenty to see and hear, but clearly Saturday’s headliners, Foo Fighters, and Sunday’s main event, New Jersey’s own Bon Jovi, did not compete for attention. Despite the half-dozen other stages, many people claimed real estate early at the main stage for both shows.
It wasn’t just the music that made Bamboozle successful – nearly 80 musical acts appeared on seven stages erected on the Asbury Park beaches for the three-day festival – it was just as much about the local business owners who talked of selling out of items by the end of the weekend.
If the success of Bamboozle is any measure, Asbury Park could be in for a really big summer this year. City officials are hopeful concertgoers will return in the summer to enjoy the beach, boardwalk and the many fine restaurants Asbury Park has to offer.
Kudos to Mayor Ed Johnson and the City Council, City Manager and OEM Coordinator Terence J. Reidy, Madison Marquette, the beachfront developer, Live Nation, which ran the event, and the thousands of concertgoers themselves for a well-run festival. Congratulations also to Police Chief Mark Kinmon and the Asbury Park Police Department, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, the county health department and other emergency personnel for being so well prepared.
The traffic was handled well, the crowd and crowd-control personnel were courteous and respectful. Overall, Bamboozle was staged and organized better than anyone had expected.
Most of the action took place between Convention Hall north to Eighth Avenue, although businesses and hotels in many of the surrounding towns benefited as well. Bamboozle brought upwards of 90,000 people to the city over the three-day weekend.
Now in its 10th year, the festival has returned to Asbury Park – hopefully for good. In 2006 it was relocated to the parking lot of the Meadowlands sports complex in East Rutherford and had been held there for the last several years.
Bamboozle is a great tribute to the great musical history of Asbury Park. City officials and everyone else who worked to bring it home deserves credit.
Monmouth County has a dynamic tourism industry, and the county’s Department of Public Information and Tourism support local events. Go to www.visitmonmouth.com and check out tourism’s calendar of events. It is the place to learn about what’s going on in Momouth County.
Thomas A. Arnone is deputy director of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.