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 150,000 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., regional director for the state Parks Department.
"If that brings back memories of post-show gridlock as thousands of cars exit on the parkways, you're not alone. To avoid gridlock, motorists are no longer permitted to park on the shoulder of Ocean Parkway. In the last few years, traffic has flowed smoothly into the park and has exited the park quickly as more visitors come early to enjoy a day at the beach and then stay for the fireworks,” Gorman says. “If you plan to arrive prior to 8 p.m., traffic should be light to moderate."
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 30-minute show.
Sterling National 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, parks.ny.gov
ADMISSION $10 parking fee charged 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
BOAT TO THE SHOW
Beating the crowd? 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., with boats departing between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 4, Captree State Park, Babylon. Reservations required.
INFO 631-669-6464, captreefleet.com
About a dozen 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 are providing snacks or desserts as part of a cruising package while others are selling food items a la carte. Some vessels invite passengers to bring their own food. Boats return at about 11 p.m.
The Capt. Lou Fleet
WHEN | WHERE Board at 7 p.m. July 4, 31 Woodcleft Ave./11 Richmond St., Freeport. Reservations required.
INFO 516-623-5823, captloufleet.com
The Capt. Lou Fleet sails from Freeport with two fireworks options this year. The basic party boat trip is a 4-hour tour that departs at 7 p.m. and costs $75 with a DJ, cash bar and a la carte snack bar (no outside beverages). More involved is a dinner cruise aboard the sleek Sapphire Princess, a 134-passenger yacht offering appetizers, a buffet meal, a photo booth, open bar and DJ entertainment ($130 adults, $100 senior citizens over 65, $90 ages 4-20).
Freeport Water Taxi
WHEN|WHERE 8:30-10:45 p.m. July 4, 211 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport
INFO 516-874-4082, freeportwatertaxi.com
ADMISSION $50 adults, $35 for children ages 6-10, free under 5
Wantagh Park in Wantagh and Cedar Creek Park in Seaford also offer alternative views of the show, albeit about 5 miles from center stage.
Both parks "are excellent viewing locations for the Jones Beach fireworks," says Eileen Krieb, Nassau County parks commissioner.
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.
"These parks have limited parking, fill very early in the day and there is no overflow parking," she says. "The lots will be closed when they are full."