ROXBURY, NJ – They’re calling it the Roxbury Beach Blast, as they’ve done for a decade, but there will be something missing from this year’s event: The beach.
The 10th Annual Beach Blast - taking place June 16 in Succasunna - won’t happen at the sandy Horseshoe Lake beach. It’s been moved to the Horseshoe Lake fairgrounds - the grass field that last week hosted the St. Therese Parish Carnival.
Visitors can still bring beach chairs and blankets to the 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. event, as was the custom in prior years. But bare feet might not be a good idea.
Why change the nature of a popular community event? “The reason we have to do that is it’s just grown in scope and number of participants,” said Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall. “From a logistical point of view it makes sense … People can sit on the grass.”
Another big change: The event – which is the year’s largest fundraiser for the Roxbury Arts Alliance - will be free. Up until this year, the alliance charged a small admission fee and typically raised about $6,000 yearly. The money that was earmarked for scholarships and programming at the Roxbury Performing Arts Center.
Although no money will be collected this year, the organizers will be accepting donations, stressed Roxbury Arts Alliance President Genevieve Schmidt. “We are taking donations online or at the Beach Blast,” she said.
Those involved aren’t predicting whether the free admission approach will yield more money for those scholarships and art performances. The hope is that more people will come to the expanded event and they will be generous.
The decision to move to the fairgrounds, which is substantially larger than the beach, came about after the Roxbury Police Department expressed interest in making the Beach Blast a “National Night Out” event, Hall said. “It’s just growing too much, with the National Night Out (being added),” he said. “There’s not enough room at the beach.”
National Night Out is "an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie" designed to "bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances," according to its website.
In recent years, the Beach Blast drew 1,300 to 1,400 people, Schmidt said. Proponents of moving off the beach say the fairground will allow many more features. Under a Ton, the local band scheduled to perform, will be able to use the bandshell, for one thing.
Among the new attractions will be several bounce houses for children, a dunk tank operated by Roxbury fire and emergency medical personnel and carnival games. Since it will be part of the National Night Out effort, the Beach Blast will also include police-related stuff such as a K-9 unit demonstration.
“The fireworks are going to be better than ever,” promised Hall. The display is being sponsored by Alford Financial Group, Fullerton Grounds Maintenance, Realtor Gary Ribe, Legends Car Wash, PJ’s Auto Body, Dr. Harvey Siegel, Tim Smith and family, Valley Pharmacy & Surgical Supply and Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo and family.
Food and desserts will be sold by vendors who contribute a portion of the proceeds to the arts alliance.
If it rains, the event will take place June 17.