It’s “unofficially” here and personally, I could not be happier – the boots are replaced with flip flops, t-shirts to wear instead of parkas, and the big snow shovels have been stored and replaced with sand shovels!
This past weekend we celebrated Memorial Day, the unofficial kick-off to summer. I hope that while you were celebrating and barbequing with family and friends, you took a moment to reflect on the true reason for this holiday – those soldiers who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. On Memorial Day, we remember those that came before us and fought for the freedoms and protection we enjoy each and every day. Thank you to all those who served in the past, those that protect us in the present and those who will continue the legacy in the future.
While we celebrated and honored those who served, this weekend was also the official start of Monmouth County’s 2015 Tourism Season. Tourism in Monmouth County supports large and small businesses, and it plays a vital role in building and sustaining our economic vibrancy. The Tourism industry helps to enhance the quality of life throughout Monmouth County as nearly 32,000 people are employed in tourism related jobs. Monmouth County sees about 5 million visitors each year and in 2014, those visitors spent $2.3 billion, up 3.3% over visitor spending in 2013. Here a few exciting figures about visitors spending in Monmouth County during 2014 tourism season:
- $585 Million spent on Food
- $448 Million spent on Accommodations
- $514 Million on Recreation & Entertainment
- $428 Million spent on Retail
- $306 Million spent on Transportation
We encourage our visitors and residents to visit our beaches, boardwalks, attractions, parks, historic sites, theaters, restaurants, downtowns and businesses. We are also excited about some upcoming events in the County, including Belmar Seafood Festival, June 12- 14; Oceanfest in Long Branch on July 4; and our own Monmouth County Fair to be held July 22 -26.
We are all looking forward to a warm, sunny and successful 2015 tourism season, which will be made much easier on local congestion as we recently opened the West Front Street Bridge, adjoining Middletown and Red Bank, just ahead of the Memorial Day Weekend. Local residents, commuters and travelers have been looking forward to this day since January 5. The 19-week closure was difficult for motorists, but it was necessary. We are pleased to provide residents and commuters with a new bridge that will safely serve their needs for a very long time. The bridge is open to motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic, but the construction work will continue, in the area around the bridge through April 2016. In addition to the removal of the old temporary bridge, concrete sidewalks will be completed that will provide an ADA accessible route from Hubbard Avenue in Middletown to Rector Place/Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank. The contractor will continue working on the parapets and sidewalk for the bridge, which include the installation of the new ornamental lighting for the Bridge.
Some facts about the new bridge: The new bridge is 44-feet wide with two 12-foot travel lanes and four-foot shoulders and six-foot sidewalks in both directions. The new bridge provides approximately nine feet of vertical clearance above mean high water elevation; there will be approximately 72 feet of horizontal clearance within the navigable channel of the Swimming River.
So come visit our beaches and our unique attractions, eat in our wonderful restaurants, and stay in some of the best hotels and B&B’s in New Jersey. I wish everyone a wonderful, warm and safe summer season.