Seaside Fireworks Memories

Watching the Fireworks from Ortley Beach

When I was a child I spent my summers in Ortley Beach. My family owned a house that was a stone's throw from the Surf Club. In those days the houses were not all three stories high. Most were still small bungalows. Our house had a sundeck coming off of the second floor dormer and from there we could sit and watch the weekly Seaside Heights fireworks show.

I can't remember any one of those nights in particular but I do have a clear memory of how those fireworks nights went. We would first haul all the beach chairs upstairs and onto the sundeck. Many nights we had to bring out our jackets or some blankets. Despite it being the summer a combination of a brisk, cool sea breeze and a long hot day in the sun meant it could a bit chilly.

We anticipated seeing the show by being ready for it. We would sit around talking, peering out over the roofs towards the lights of Seaside Heights. Waiting for the first big flash of brightly colored light in the sky. We couldn't see the boardwalk because of the roofs in our way but the fireworks were high enough to give us a great view from where we sat.

I don't think I ever really knew where all the crowd noises came from but there must have been many other people around us that were able to see the fireworks too. I guess we could hear people standing on the boardwalk, on the beach, and watching from other houses around us. The "crowd" noise was not as loud as what you hear when you watched the fireworks from the boardwalk but it was distinctive enough to be noticeable. A muffled but clear reaction rose out of the night with every large or particularly showy pyrotechnic display. The ooo's and aaa's were a natural reaction. Not every firework was good enough to get a rise out of the crowd but there was plenty that would. We would often make some noise ourselves too. I remember we made a bit of a game out of mimicking the noises we could hear other people making, rather than it being a spontaneous reaction for us. As if we were somehow above being amazed by it all!

Another interesting sound related part of the show was the bang from the explosions. Like lightning preceding a thunderclap, the noise was a few seconds after the flash. For some reason I loved the deep, resonating power of that sound.

The best part of the whole show was the grand finale. A whole bunch of fireworks going off, building to a sustained crescendo when dozens were fired of at once. A few seconds after it started there was the marching drum like sound that rocked the night.

Just one of the many wonderful memories of my childhood summers at the Jersey shore.....


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