Shore Fireworks Tradition Gets Cancelled [AUDIO]
One of the Garden State's most popular fourth of July attractions will be getting the axe due to financial reasons.
The KaBoom festival in Red Bank, which culminates a day long even in the township, regularly draws over two hundred thousand visitors into the area to watch the fireworks over the Navesink River. The huge draw of the event is in part responsible for it's demise according Red Bank mayor Paquale Mena. He says that with such a large amount of visitors, the town is responsible for hiring security for the festival at a cost of seventy thousand dollars. The need for security along with increased attractions, sanitation workers, and lawyers for all the insurance cases (on average ten a year according to Menna) drives the cost of the event to almost three hundred thousand.
After struggling to meet those goals in the past year, the township committee has decided they would not be able to hold the even this year. Menna says they tried working with sponsors to fund the event, however the rising cost of holding KaBoom on top of a sluggish economy prevented them from reaching the required amount of donation.
"We've reached a critical point where some of the major sponsors have made some preliminary commitments but their commitments are less than they were last year."
Menna says that for a town as small as Red Bank keeping such a huge population safe is incredibly to do financially. He has tried to seek help with neighboring towns and the county, but to no avail.
" We've been begging for years of the county and or the state and or the region as a whole to become partners with us. Unfortunately the borough of Red Bank is in a position where we actually have to pay out of town police officers and the county and other agencies to help us."
Menna notes though the decision wasn't popular it was the fiscally sound one since he didn't want to burden the tax payer's with the costs. Especially since Red Banks small size makes it difficult to increase ratable significantly.
"We only have a residential base of 12 thousand 13 thousand people and we're only two square miles, so we don't have a lot of the growth possibilities that even in a shrinking economy you'd be able to get more building and more development in." says Menna.
Mayor Menna notes that unfortunately his town "is not the first nor will it be the last" to have to cut out events like KaBoom. He believes the problem lies with the mindset many municipalities have.
"We've relied upon models that have worked well because the economies have been relatively well balanced but in difficult financial times I think you have to step back and reinvent the when sort of."
Menna notes that unlike his neighbors along the shore, Asbury Park and Long Branch, Red Bank gets no state aid.
"We were receiving up until about three years ago close to 400-450 dollars in additional aid by the state every year. That was cut off. We have to make up for it."
Residents of Red Bank need not worry since Mayor Menna says the town will still have a smaller Independence Day celebration for residents.
As for the possibility of KaBoom in the future? Menna is hopeful that if they can secure a larger sponsor there can be a similar event in 2013.