NJ celebrates the 4th at parades and the beach

July 4, 2011 1:16:46 PM PDT
It was a beautiful day to take in a parade or spend it lounging in the sun on the 4th of July in New Jersey.

What's amazing about Belmar is that during the year the population here is about 6,000, and then during the summer is more like 60,000.

It was a perfect beach day for all the visitors, many of whom have found some smart ways to save money at the shore.

They served up a picture-perfect 4th of July at the Jersey Shore.

Beachgoers in Belmar enjoyed the water, whether in a little pool or in the ocean.

"It's wonderful, it's not too sunny, but the day is nice," said Roberto Richardson, an Elmwood Park resident.

Across Ocean Avenue, business owners were thrilled to be busy again, after slowing down during Sunday's rain.

With gas prices going up, merchants have noticed more people carpooling to the beach.

"You'll see a lot of cars with four-five people in them whereas last year we had two people," said Tom Rogers, TR's Food Court.

Those packed cars mean more people buying beach badges.

In Belmar, they're a bargain, at $7 per person, and kids under 16 get in for free.

"People coming up to buy badges are buying 5, 6, 7. Large families, packing them in," said Kevin O'Donnell, the Belmar Beachfront Director.

Eyewitness News saw plenty of coolers being wheeled or carried onto the beach. It's another way families are saving money.

"By the time you pay for gas, by the time you pay for your badge on the beach, if you bring your own food it's just much easier," said Jennifer Stetson, an East Brunswick resident.

For many, Belmar is the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.

It's close enough so you don't need to empty your wallet for gas, and far enough away that it feels like a vacation.

"I wish the prices were cheaper but I'm not going to let it stop me from enjoying the beach," said Jonathan Mancinelli, a Clifton resident.

Meantime in Ridgefield Park, there was a 4th of July celebration that even our forefathers would find impressive.

Stretching more than three dozen blocks it's what locals claim is New Jersey's oldest Independence Day Parade, spanning the past 118 years.

"It is the oldest parade going around, we enjoy it," said Melanie Campbell, a resident.

"We never miss. Nobody can go on vacation for the 4th of July because they have to be at this parade," said Karen Davis, a resident.

To call it a tradition is an understatement.

More, it is what many believe defines this community and its love of country.

"Without this it would not be the 4th of July," said Juana Martinez, a resident.

While the parade is a hallmark, community leaders had to make a tough decision canceling fireworks for a third straight year.

"When you have an option of either laying people off or reducing services that people need as opposed to having fireworks, it becomes somewhat easy, although we don't like it," said George Fosdick, Mayor of Ridgefield Park.

The mayor and Citizens Committee members say those fireworks would cost Ridgefield Park close to $50,000 for the show and overtime expenses.

"It's so expensive. (It's one of those belt tightening measures?) Yes, yes and it's very sad," said Rosa Costanzo, a business owner.

"I'm sure it cost a lot of money. This isn't cheap either. I think he did the best he could with the facts he had," said Chris Russo, a resident.

Others hope they might return with help from a sponsor or benefactor.

"We have to find some way to bring it back. It's probably a pretty big ticket to write," said Will Orth, a resident.

For now though one important tradition continues in both heart and spirit.