With local hotels filling up at astronomical prices and everyone gearing up for the Super Bowl, Secaucus is set to make the week before the game a memorable one with the three-day Winter Blast in Buchmuller Park.
Running from Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, and open to Secaucus residents and nonresidents alike, the Blast events feature everything from food to music to sports events, from a giant snowglobe to a life-sized dinosaur.
A wide selection of edibles—from waffles to lobster to Thai or New Orleans cuisine—will be available at the “food truck mash.”
“Rain, snow, sleet or shine, the event is going on. It’s a winter blast.” –Michael Gonnelli
For those interested in liquid refreshment, local bar Charlie’s Corner is partnering with Anheuser-Busch, Heineken, and Brooklyn Brewery. “We’re doing a block long beer garden,” said Gonnelli. “Tented, heated, pretty much self-contained. They’re going to have games and karaoke and local bands.”
Tickets for Winter Blast cost $10 a day in advance and $15 at the door, with kids 10 and under free. Discounts are available for multiple tickets.
A wide variety of musicians will perform at Winter Blast, including the Craft Band on Thursday at 6:30, the “Queen of Times Square,” Naked Cowgirl Cindy Fox on Friday at 7:45, and the Love Electric Band on Saturday.
“The young boy who was in Motown the Musical, he played Michael Jackson, he’s going to come out, play two nights,” Gonnelli said. “Another local resident, her name is Lisa Howard, she was in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and quite a few Broadway shows, she’s going to perform.”
In addition, two radio stations will broadcast live from the event. “On Friday night it’s going to be a country hoedown kind of a theme with NASH Radio,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Lee Penna. The station will be at Winter Blast from 5 to 8 p.m. with popular radio personality Kelly Ford. “And then on Saturday it’s 92.3 Now. They’ll be providing giveaways and prizes.” The 92.3 remote street team will be onsite from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.
“Off to the side of that will be our Little League field,” said Mayor Gonnelli. “And on the Little League field we’re going to have a giant screen showing all the past Super Bowls. We’ll start at the beginning and work all the way up. We’re going to have a 40-yard dash set up by Sports Authority, who are one of our sponsors. They’ll be running all kinds of events and contests on the field for kids and adults.”
Sports celebrities attending the event include New Jersey Devils Bruce Driver, Gary Marshall and Ken Dinenko at a meet and greet on Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Bart Oates, former Giant and current NFL NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee member, is also scheduled to appear.
“The Lombardi trophy will be there all three days and you’ll be able to take a photo with it,” said Gonnelli.
In an attempt to score a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, local nonprofit Spectrum Works and the Toscana Cheese Company plan to create the world’s largest football made of mozzarella. “There are a couple of famous sports memorabilia artists that are going to come out and auction off their paintings,” added Gonnelli, with Spectrum Works receiving a percentage of the sale.
A “vendor village” along one side will provide opportunities to purchase all kinds of souvenirs, trinkets, and other goodies. “For our vendor village we’re using PODS,” said Gonnelli, referring to the storage modules often used by movers or for storage. “They’ll be supplied with electric so if they want to they can heat them up, put lights in them and set them up like little stores. People have the option to get out of the weather too. They can step inside a heated POD.”
Other attractions at Winter Blast include the New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum on Thursday and Friday, and an animatronic dinosaur from the Field Station: Dinosaurs theme park throughout the event.
Keeping with the winter theme, Jimmy’s Artistic Creations will carve ice sculptures in the shape of the competing Super Bowl team helmets and the Winter Blast logo. And there will be that giant snowglobe, which visitors can step inside for photos.
“We were concerned that we weren’t going to have snow,” said Gonnelli. “But it certainly looks like we’re going to have snow. We’re probably going to stockpile a lot of snow on the field and do winter activities.”
“Rain, snow, sleet or shine, the event is going on,” he added. “It’s a winter blast.”
NY Waterway is supplying buses to carry visitors from local hotels to the event. Additional buses will run from the NJ Transit train station and on two routes within Secaucus to bring residents to the park.
“If you’re driving in from another town, your best bet is to go to one of our two lots,” said Gonnelli. “Don’t try to park in the area.” The lots are located at 2 Emerson Lane and at the Field Station: Dinosaurs theme park. “There’s a parking fee of 10 bucks. All the proceeds from parking go to the volunteer firemen. They’re going to be manning, securing, and doing all the parking.”
A portion of ticket sales will also go to the fire department, and to other local organizations including the Secaucus Emergency Fund, Spectrum Works, and the K&S Social Athletic Club.
“The entire event was paid for through sponsorship so there’s not one penny of taxpayers’ dollars going to this event,” Gonnelli said. “That budget includes cleanup, police, any expenses the town will incur.”
For a full schedule of events or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.secaucusnj.org and click on the link to “view additional information.”
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.