By Andrew Kramer
CAPE MAY COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) – Festivals, food, family and, of course, fireworks — all of these are major parts of Fourth of July weekend. And for many people, you can add the beach to that list.
Jeff Guaracino with the Atlantic City Alliance says they’ll be hosting an “off-the-hook” party weekend, highlighted by the colorful explosions in the sky: “We have one of the largest fireworks shows in the country,” he explains. “Philadelphia has a gorgeous fireworks show and our show is three to four times its size.”
Guaracino says everywhere you look, you’ll be able to see their fireworks spectacular, which is new and different this year: “In the spirit of ‘we the people’ and our founding fathers of choice, we asked the people to tell us what their favorite songs are for the fireworks and we let them vote on it and then we created ‘the people’s show’.”
He says you’ll hear favorites like Whitney Houston singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” to name a few, as the show will be choreographed to the sound track.
Nearby, Margate Business Association President Ed Berger says they’ll be hosting a more traditional celebration, packed with fun nonetheless: “We do have great events throughout the day on July 4th. It is a barbecue on the beach day and, of course, we have sidewalk sales with all our retailers, our restaurants run specials, and in the evening, the Margate Mothers Association sponsors the fireworks, which have been going on for at least 20 years now.”
July 4th falls on a Friday this year, which has many people, including Michele Gillian with the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, looking forward to the weekend even more. “Bingo! We’re so excited down here,” she said. “People are going to come in on the 3rd, we’ll have activities all day on July 4th — we have two bike parades, we also have, down on the beach, kite competitions and bands, and then we have our traditional fireworks display.”
And that’s not all. She says much more will be going on that weekend as many people will start their celebration of the summer in a meaningful way: “There’s all those things from picnics at homes, from picnics on the beach and barbecues and fireworks and parades and all those great things. We start July 3rd on the Ocean City Boardwalk with Family Nights, and they’ll be activities all throughout the weekend.”
Director of community services for Sea Isle City Katherine Custer says they, too, will host several events before the grand finale at night: “We always have a wonderful lineup of fun things to do on July 4th and this year is certainly no exception. Our July 4th here in Sea Isle City typically begins with our Junior Olympics which is a city-sponsored competition for children between the ages of 3-13. It’s a wonderful opportunity for families to come together on July 4th.”
Custer says the July 4th fun doesn’t stop with the Junior Olympics: “It’s always a great day on the beach here in Sea Isle City on Independence Day. As the day goes on, we have a concert at our Excursion Park Band Shell in the evening, and it will be a fun, very patriotic concert, which will go right through to the hour that our fireworks begin.”
Custer promises this year’s fireworks display in Sea Isle will be “bigger and better than ever.”
Executive director of the Wildwoods Tourism Authority John Siciliano points out their July 4th weekend will be action packed as well, with some new additions: “We’re going to kick off, in North Wildwood, we’re going to have our Independence Day Parade, but what’s really cool is they’ve added a little element now which is called the Patriotic Pooch Parade. People are going to join the parade, their dogs are going to be dressed in patriotic garb and they’re going to join the parade which is a pretty cool addition to it.”
Siciliano says after the morning parades, the celebrations continue later in the afternoon: “At Fox Park in Wildwood, right across from the Convention Center, there’s going to be a Jimmy Buffet tribute band — a free concert. Also, Wildwood Crest is going to have a Fourth of July patriotic show, which is also free, in Centennial Park. And then everything culminates with a fireworks spectacular which is a visible show from anywhere on the island, I mean on the boardwalk, Wildwood Crest beaches, North Wildwood beaches, the show can be seen island-wide.”
Once July 4th comes and goes, Siciliano adds you can sit back and enjoy the rest of the weekend, also full of activities.
Finally, if you’re on the way to Cape May on July 4th, Susan Krysiak with their Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts says you have two chances to celebrate the holiday: “There’s fireworks on July 4th in Cape May, and on July 3rd, actually in Lower Township on the bayside, so there’s two nights to enjoy fireworks in Cape May.”
In addition, she says they are offering another unique way to celebrate Independence Day: “One thing that MAC is doing this year, we’re offering a new event called ‘Dinner with Fireworks’ — you get dinner at the Red Store in Cape May Point and then you get a chance to climb up the Lighthouse in the evening, right before the fireworks start, and wait for them to begin and watch them at the very top.”
Krysiak says the view up there is amazing and expects this to be an exciting event.
More information about July 4th celebrations can be found on the respective city websites.
And remember, you can learn about all the events down the shore this summer by listening to The Shore Thing on HearPHILLY Radio.
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