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, you're not alone. 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 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, astoriabank.com/fireworks
ADMISSION $10 vehicle use fee charged 4-9:30 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 by 7 p.m. July 4, Captree State Park, Babylon. Reservations required.
INFO 631-669-6464, captreefleet.com
About 15 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 and sandwiches as part of a cruising package while others are selling food items a la carte. Some vessels invite 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. 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 a range of fireworks options this year. The basic party boat trip is a 4-hour tour that departs at 7:30 p.m. and costs $60 with a DJ, cash bar and a la carte snack bar (no outside food or beverages). More involved is a dinner cruise aboard the sleek Sapphire Princess, a 134-passenger yacht offering a buffet meal, open bar and DJ entertainment ($150 adults, $120 ages 4-20).
Freeport Water Taxi
WHEN|WHERE 8:45-10:45 p.m. July 4, 211 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport
INFO 516-874-4082, 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."