By CAROL COMEGNO
The first gala shipboard fund-raiser generated more than $100,000 for the Battleship New Jersey Memorial and Museum.
That exceeded expectations, said Troy Collins, president and chief executive officer of the museum.
Proceeds from individual tickets - which cost at least $250 - and corporate sales will be tallied this week, Collins said.
More than 200 people attended the Battleship Blast Saturday night. They were treated to cocktails, dinner and music. They also enjoyed the Two Cities/Two States fireworks display over the Delaware River.
"Considering we had to compete with the opening of the new Constitution Center in Philadelphia and other July 4 weekend events, we got a lot of great support for our first effort," said John Matheussen, co-chairman of the nonprofit Home Port Alliance, which oversees the ship.
Battleship New Jersey, the nation's most decorated battleship, served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It opened as a museum in October 2001.
The alliance operates and restores it with income from ticket sales and special events. Donations also help fund the $5.7 million budget.
Philadelphia Mayor John Street and Commerce Bank Chairman Vernon W. Hill II of Moorestown co-hosted the Battleship Blast.
Commerce Bank, the presenting sponsor, donated $15,000.
Hill referred to the museum as a daring project that is an important element in resurrecting Camden.
PSE&G and JJ White Inc. each donated $10,000. Camden County, J&P Rental, New Jersey Network and the law firm of Parker McCay and Criscuolo gave $5,000 each.
Bill Kettleson of Washington Township, a Comcast executive, said he could not think of a better place in South Jersey to celebrate the nation's independence.
Comcast partnered with the History Channel in 2002 and made a ship video tour for visitors with disabilities.
The crowd enjoyed a beef filet and grilled chicken dinner by Andreotti's Viennese Cafe of Cherry Hill, then watched the fireworks from the forecastle of the 887-foot-long ship several stories above the river.
"You can't get a better seat for fireworks," said Shawn Gress, 45, of Delran, a first-time visitor.
A touring group of the national USO show of New York City sang World War II-era tunes in miniskirt uniforms. Their performance was particularly special for Marietta Trainer of Shamong.
"I did USO work for six years and performed on the USS Forrestal at Newport News in 1964 and '65," said Trainer, 53. "I just wanted to be here because I'm very patriotic."
Reach Carol Comegno at (609) 267-9486 or firstname.lastname@example.org