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Annual Fireworks Festival Blasts Off Saturday

Community Events Organization hopes for strong turnout after missing a year.

Just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, right?

Long Valley is set to host the third annual this Saturday, .

Most Washington Township residents will remember, with ease, why the town’s largest gathering never took off–.

The storm descended upon the northern New Jersey area on Saturday, Aug. 27, the same day the festival was scheduled. Thanks to heavy rains prior to the storm, the field behind the used to host the event was already soggy, and the torrential rains from Irene only made it worse.

Just a day before the event, the Washington Township Community Events Organization (WTCEO) decided to postpone the festival.

“We didn’t lost a ton (of money) last year, fortunately,” WTCEO President Josh Drake said. “And we were able to carry over a lot of materials from that event to this year.”

Among them are the programs filled with sponsors and advertisers, Drake said, in addition to the deposit for the fireworks company, Interstate. Those saved costs year over year have given the WTCEO the ability to buffer spending elsewhere.

Parking for the event, which begins at 5 p.m., has been reduced from $10 to $5 this year, Drake said, and children will be given unlimited access to all games–which have increased in number and activities–for a $5 bracelet.

The WTCEO is made up of 12 active volunteers, Drake said, who have been working on the event since February. During the last event in 2010, 25 vendors were on display. As of midweek, that number was in the teens for 2012, and Drake said he expected it to top 20 come festival day.

Live entertainment, headlined by will also be available, in addition to a beer garden and various food and drink stands, Drake said.

The fireworks will last about a half hour, Drake said, and are expected to hit the sky at 9 p.m. Entertainment and vendors will be available through 10 p.m.

It’s not just fun and games, however, as the WTCEO plans to honor three long-time Washington Township volunteers at the event.

Firefighters Jeff Lloyd, Robert Drake, and Robert Cline will all be recognized for more than 40 years of volunteer service to the town. For Lloyd, it will be a posthumous honor.

As of press time, the forecast called for 81 degrees and partly cloudy with just a 20-percent chance of rain for Saturday.

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