SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – An estimated 7,000 people gathered on the field between the Crossroads North and South middle schools Friday night to enjoy the township’s annual Fourth of July Celebration, including, of course, fireworks.

The annual event is one of the biggest, drawing thousands of people each year, officials said.

Running from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the party started with residents bringing their families to the field with chairs, blankets, and coolers as the 18-piece band “Time Machine” played a variety of music from the 1950s through the current year.

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There were many food vendors offering everything from barbeque to kettle corn, funnel cakes and ice cream.

Representatives from the Hugs for Brady Foundation handed out flowers to attendees and another vendor sold glow in the dark sticks and necklaces as families played catch with footballs and Frisbees on the field.

Around 9:20 p.m., the fireworks show started.

The free event is held each year and used to take place at South Brunswick High School on Ridge Road.

It moved to Crossroads seven years ago, Parks and Recreation Director Tom Morris said.

The township moved the celebration to the closest weekend evening to the Fourth of July holiday both to make sure the most residents would attend and to save a little money on booking the fireworks and entertainment.

Many vendors for fireworks and entertainment charge a higher rate to perform on the holiday itself because of the demand, officials said.

The next big event during the summer takes place in early August with the National Night Out and Community Unity Day celebration on the first Tuesday evening of the month at Rowland Park on Broadway.

Like the Fourth of July celebration, several thousand residents attend that event sponsored by both the South Brunswick Police Department and the township’s Municipal Alliance, which combats substance abuse.

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