Hoboken braces for big fireworks crowd

July 3, 2009 2:45:20 PM PDT
Tens of thousands of people are expected to come to the waterfront in Hoboken for front row seats to the Macy's Fireworks show. Hoboken officials are taking every precaution to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

"They're building it up to be bigger than St. Patrick's Day. Bigger than New Year's Eve," said Gina, the manager of City Bistro.

This Fourth of July, New Jersey waterfront residents are the lucky ones. In an unusual twist, the Macy's Fireworks will be launching from barges on the Hudson River instead of the East River.

"It's very exciting. This is the prime spot!" said Kerriann Sweeten, manager of the 3 Forty Grill on Sinatra Drive - booked solid with a wait list. "We're expecting more people than on any holiday. They say it'll be complete gridlock around here."

Starting at 9:20 p.m. Saturday more than 22 tons of fiery color will explode for a mile and a half over the river from six barges spanning 25 city blocks.

"If it's anything like the East River, it should be amazing and we're looking forward to it," John Denison of North Bergen said.

The fireworks spectacular is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to Hoboken's bars and restaurants. It couldn't come at a better time -- between the recession and wet summer weather, business owners are relieved to finally have a day when they're booked solid.

"Considering it rained the entire month of June, we really need this," Kevin Cocca of Trinity said.

Hoboken's newly-elected mayor Peter Cammarano will spend his first weekend in office managing an event so huge, the city's population could more than double.

"Every infraction no matter how minor is going to be ticketed," Cammarano said.

After complaints about out-of-control partiers at this year's Saint Patrick's Day parade, every single member of the Hoboken police force will be on-duty Saturday. They will be enforcing a zero-tolerance policy, searching bags to ensure no one brings alcohol to the waterfront, and monitoring rooftops and balconies for overcrowding.

Street closures throughout Hudson County start Saturday morning. Police here are estimating that it will take drivers more than four hours to leave Hoboken after the fireworks are over. Best advice is to take New Jersey Transit or the PATH, which will be running more trains to accommodate all of the people.

In Manhattan, the West Side Highway will be closed to traffic starting in the early evening, open to pedestrians for viewing the fireworks shooting from the six barges docked in the Hudson between West 23rd and West 59th streets.

Other prime locations are the Empire State Building, where tickets are going at $125.

For more information on area fireworks, please check out special section at http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/feature?section=news&id=6896087.


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