Heading to Jones Beach for July Fourth fireworks is a long-standing tradition for many Long Islanders who enjoy a day playing in the sand, followed by a night watching pyrotechnics light up the Atlantic sky. Here's how to make the most of the event and beat the crowd.
About 200,000 visitors are expected at the park on July 4, and more than 100,000 are likely to be there for the fireworks, says George Gorman Jr., deputy regional director for the state Parks Department.
If that brings back memories of post-show gridlock as thousands of cars exit on the parkways, not to worry. To avoid gridlock, motorists will no longer be permitted to park on the shoulder of Ocean Parkway. The Meadowbrook and Wantagh parkways south of Merrick Road and Ocean Parkway east of Tobay may be closed if Jones Beach fills to capacity the evening of the fireworks show.
The multicolored displays will be set off by Millington, New Jersey-based Garden State Fireworks from a barge in the Atlantic south of Jones Beach's Central Mall. WALK/97.5 FM and K98.3 FM will simulcast music during the 25- to 30-minute show.
Astoria Bank July 4th Fireworks at Jones Beach State Park
WHEN | WHERE 9:30 p.m. July 4, Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh
INFO 516-785-1600, nysparks.com
ADMISSION $10 vehicle use fee charged 4-9:30 p.m.
BOAT TO THE SHOW
Allergic to traffic? Board one of the Captree or Freeport Nautical Mile boats to watch from a front-row seat on the bay.
The Captree Fleet
WHEN | WHERE Boarding begins around 6 p.m., boats depart beginning at 6:30 p.m. sharp July 4, Captree State Park, Babylon. Reservations required.
INFO 631-669-6464, captreefleet.com
Fifteen boats from the Captree fleet of "open" or charter fishing vessels will take passengers out for an evening of cruising the Great South Bay, picnicking on deck and watching the fireworks at anchor. Some boats will sell snacks or serve free pastries and sandwiches on the ride home, but many passengers bring their own food.
"Treat it as a picnic and prepare a basket of food," suggests Kathy Heinlein, president of the Captree Boatmans Association. Boats return at about 11 p.m.
The Capt. Jim III
WHEN | WHERE Board at 7 p.m. July 4, Freeport Boatmen's Association dock, 540 Guy Lombardo Ave., Freeport. Reservations required.
INFO 516-476-0355, captjimfishing.com
The 65-foot cruiser will sail from Freeport with up to 108 passengers who will get a tour of local sites, such as Point Lookout and the Meadowbrook Parkway Bridge before anchoring near the Jones Beach fishing piers for the big show in the sky.
Soda and water will be sold onboard, but passengers can bring their own coolers stocked with beer, wine and sandwiches. The boat will return to port about 11 p.m.
Freeport Water Taxi
WHEN|WHERE 8:45-10:45 p.m. July 4,
INFO 516-521-7744, freeportwatertaxi.com
Wantagh Park in Wantagh and Cedar Creek Park in Seaford also offer alternative views of the show, albeit about 5 miles from center stage.
"Wantagh [Park] has a fantastic view of the bay," says Brian Nugent, acting Nassau County parks commissioner. "Cedar [Creek] doesn't have a direct view of the fireworks, but it will be busy because of the [Jones Beach] bike path entrance."
Capacity crowds are expected at both parks, so if you're seeking a spot to watch the fireworks, it's a good idea to arrive early to avoid being shut out.
Says Nugent: "We have limited parking at both parks and anticipate having to close when the lots are full."