2022 ahoy! Raise a glass and ring in the new year on this amazing NJ ship
This New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, visitors can turn a visit to the Battleship New Jersey on the Camden waterfront into a full-day excursion by touring the most decorated battleship in U.S. Navy history and enjoying an evening of live music, food, drinks, and fireworks.
Battleship New Jersey Executive Director Jack Willard said there will be three fireworks shows over the Delaware River visible from the deck of the battleship: one on New Year's Eve at 6 p.m. and two on New Year's Day at midnight and 6 p.m.
The battleship will open its forward deck for guests to come aboard and get a unique view of the fireworks, Willard said.
There will be live music, food concessions, and cash bar service for adults 21 and over.
Willard said all guests will also be allowed to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to fire a 5-inch gun at the end of each fireworks show.
Tickets are only $10 and all proceeds will go towards the ongoing restoration of the battleship which is a non-profit museum and memorial on the Camden waterfront.
Guests must sign a COVID-19 liability waiver before boarding the battleship and maintaining social distancing. Fully vaccinated guests and children under 3 are not required to wear masks.
In addition to the three fireworks shows, Willard said there is also a $200 special experience limited to 30 guests. It's called the Admiral's VIP New Year's Fireworks Experience, which includes a guided tour of the Battleship New Jersey starting at 3:30 pm on New Year's Eve, complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and appetizers inside the heated Admiral's and Captain's cabins, followed by a view of the fireworks from the navigation bridge, where the captain would have commanded the ship from back in the day.
"It's something different. We've never had people actually inside the navigation bridge to watch fireworks before, so we're kind of excited to offer this for New Year's 2022," Willard said.
Also on New Year's Day, there will be guided tours available at 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online.
The Battleship New Jersey is also working with the South Jersey Railroaders where a holiday train display will be available through Dec. 28. The display includes a rail car that holds one of the barrels of a gun on the 16-inch gun turret. It is free to see and Willard said it's a big hit with everyone, especially the kids.
The USS New Jersey was built in the Philadelphia navy yard and launched on Dec. 7, 1942. It served in every major conflict from World War II to the Persian Gulf war. It was home to about 45,000 sailors and Marines and many of those veterans still come to the battleship this day.
Currently, the battleship serves as a memorial and museum. During the rest of December, it will be open daily for tours except Christmas Day. But it will be open for weekend tours in January February.
Willard said guests can come aboard, learn about the ship, her history, climb inside a 16-inch gun turret, track a tomahawk missile launched from the battleship in the combat engagement center, and learn how the crew lived aboard this floating city.
Willard said the biggest restoration project for the last couple of years aboard the battleship, and probably for a couple of years more, is the replacement of the teak deck, which was originally built in 1942. Since the ship sits stagnant and there are not thousands of sailors keeping it clean, the water builds up.
Right now the maintenance staff has been replacing the deck. The fantail area of the ship, which is the back deck has been renovated. Willard said in spring 2021, many schools had their proms on the battleship and because they loved how the new deck looked, they asked to use it as their dance floor, which many did.
"Money raised from the fireworks or some our events like our beer festivals or golf tournaments go right back into the ship to keep her afloat, to keep her looking good, and to keep her available for guests of New Jersey to come aboard and learn about her amazing history," Willard said.
While Willard never served in the military himself, he said his father was in the Navy during the Korean War. Willard always had a deep passion and appreciation for the military and how it served the United States. So, when he was given an opportunity to work on the Battleship New Jersey, he jumped at the chance to do so. Anything he can do to keep the battleship looking good and to keep attracting visitors and learning about her history is very important to him.
"The battleship gets in your blood, it gets in your soul and I'm excited about it," he said.
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