LAMBERTVILLE — It's been a warm-weather tradition for as long as most locals can remember, but only in the past decade or so has it become a concentrated effort to pump up tourism in municipalities along the Delaware River: fireworks at dusk on the first Friday of June, July, and August in the Lambertville-New Hope area.

Kendra Thatcher can recall watching these fireworks going back a couple of decades, and now as the director of marketing and business development for the Delaware River Towns Chamber of Commerce, it's part of her job to promote these "First Fridays" as a kickoff to the first weekends of these summery months.

"We really brought it back several years ago as a way to draw people into the towns, to really just enjoy all of the eclectic and unique and fun, delicious offerings," she said.

Thatcher said your best course of action is to show up around 5 p.m. on June 7, July 5, and/or Aug. 2. Many restaurants, bars, bed-and-breakfasts, and inns in Lambertville, and across the river in New Hope, offer special deals. Shops will often stay open well past normal closing times. And live music is sprinkled throughout both towns, with musicians invited to perform out in front of stores or even in storefronts.

Having experienced all of that, if you're early enough, you can get a prime viewing spot for the fireworks on the walkway of the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge.

The show begins as close to 9 p.m. as possible, and lasts for around 10 to 15 minutes.

While exact tourism figures aren't available, Thatcher estimates that between 4,000 and 5,000 people come out to take part in each of the First Fridays. Further up the Delaware, she said Stockton has its own version of this summer special as well.

One idea the Chamber of Commerce has been refining to increase tourism even more is a "passport" that, if you get it stamped at a certain number of Delaware River town businesses, gets you a "swag bag" from the Chamber with all kinds of informational goodies.

"We're really hoping to get people into the area, to come here and appreciate the beauty and everything that we have to offer," Thatcher said.

The First Fridays fireworks are free to all who attend. Click here for more info.

If you have an idea for a future installment of "Discovering New Jersey," contact Patrick Lavery, Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming, on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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