It’s been nearly a decade since New Jersey witnessed a spectacle like this year’s Macy’s fireworks display, which drew tens of thousands to the riverfront and countless more atop the Palisades.
Where decrepit piers blighted the waterfront not too long ago, spectators had front-row seats on the balconies of condos and apartment complexes, as well as along the Riverwalk. Others, meanwhile, began staking out vantage points as early as 8 a.m., from Fort Lee to Jersey City. One resident used a thick belt to secure a pair of beach chairs to a wooden table, ensuring a perfect view before brunchtime.
The moon offered a soft backdrop above midtown, as Macy’s barges slowly floated south, dispatching brilliantly colored rockets oe’r the land of the free and the home of the hearty — who toted coolers, tripods, blankets, boxed lunches and radios down to the riverside.
Security teams in brightly colored shirts kept watch, along with local police. But it was no different than a holiday parade, as strangers in lawn chairs became fast friends, sharing home-cooked meals, scooting over to make room for others, and turning a warm afternoon with high clouds and low humidity into a day at the beach.
The best seats belonged to those in West New York, Weehawken and Hoboken, as the barges quickly headed south after the first launch at 9:40 p.m., with Coast Guard and NYPD patrol boats clearing the way.
After all of the shows these past several years along the East River, Jersey welcomed its turn — and didn’t waste any time claiming vantage points. It was like New Years’s at Times Square — only with bikinis and crocs replacing hoodies and parkas — or an outdoor music festival.
In our complex, people hopped the language barriers with smiles and warm greetings, as Germans, Middle Easterns, Asians, Latinos and even home-grown New Jerseyans gathered on the terrace facing the Intrepid. Even a couple of our conscierges-turned-security guards for the evening got a home-cooked meal, courtesy of one of the condo owners.
More than 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded over a mile-and-a-half of the river — the length of about 30 city blocks.
The explosives were launched 1,000 feet skyward before blooming and, then, softly descending.
Applause followed the finale, of course. And within a half-hour or so, the courtyards were once again quiet.
It hadn’t even turned 11:30 yet — on a summer Saturday night, no less — but most folks seemed pooped from the popping.
(Photos by Jerry DeMarco. Use by permission only.)
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