It’s difficult to name a “best Independence Day celebration.” What even defines “best” in this situation? Amount of fireworks? Number of people? How much fun and booze there’s to be had? These questions don’t answer which celebration is the best, though they are certainly part of it. So instead of singling out one, here’s a few that stood out.
Union Beach this year is going to have a hell of a celebration. Ravaged by Hurricane Sandy last year, this town has been awarded a massive 4th of July celebration, courtesy of the Discovery Channel, Destination America, and USA Weekend magazine.
Hurricane Sandy unleashed its wrath on Union Beach last year. 90% of the city was flooded. Out of a 6,800 population, 300 homes were destroyed, and as of now, those 300 are still being rebuilt. There were also a few deaths.
Fire Chief Rob LaBerta, nicknamed “the Master of Disaster” led the relief efforts. He coordinated painstakingly with all emergency departments, borough officials, and residents to guide Union Beach through the storm. It was his moving letter written to USA Weekend that led to their sponsorship.
Union Beach already had a notable Independence Day celebration, but this year, with this sponsorship, with their residents and neighboring towns reinvigorated, this 4th of July is certainly going to bounce back in full force, starting at 6 pm on the 3rd.
A perennial favorite and probably the biggest festival is the Long Branch 4th of July celebration. It began in 1990 and to this day hundreds of thousands of people attend the town’s OceanFest.
OceanFest combines all the best parts of outdoor festivities—music, absurd amounts of food, craftors, vendors, a bustling boardwalk that rivals Atlantic City in its heyday. Its medley of fun is spread over four different locations, all within the same vicinity: the Great Lawn Stage, the Promenade, the Promenade Gazebo, and the Garfield Memorial. OceanFest is an all-day (10 am to 10 pm) extravaganza.
Like Union Beach, Hurricane Sandy brought Long Branch to its knees last year. And like Union Beach, it’s going to show how much it’s recovered since then on the 4th of July.
Atlantic City and others
If you want some serious pyrotechnics, go to Atlantic City. Without question, the best show in New Jersey. AOL News voted it the best in the U.S. behind only Macy’s fireworks in New York City.
It’s one of the longest shows out there, so you really get a bang for your buck. Broken into two parts, the first 22 minutes take place over the Marina followed by another dazzling 24 minutes along the beach and boardwalk.
Because of its fame and quality, it draws a crowd of around 200,000 so you got to setup camp early on the beach. But if you’re one of those swanky people with a hotel room, then you’re good to go…unless you’re facing the wrong direction.
For a full list of firework shows running from Cape May to Sandy Hook, here’s a convenient website.
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