RED BANK: EITHER WAY, WE’RE SCROOGED

a_christmas_carolNebraska Theatre Caravan’s stage spectacle of ‘A Christmas Carol’ makes its annual stand on the Count Basie stage this Friday…even as Middletown’s Stone Church Players offer up an intimate “radio-play” version of the Dickens classic all weekend long. Meantime, the Stone Church Players present an intimate “live radio play” style version of Scrooge’s story.

He creeps in from the shadowy fringes of the Season of Lights this time each year: the bitter old man of worldly business whose quiet Christmas Eve will soon be besieged by chain-rattling spirits and life-altering visions of the Past, Present and Yet To Come.

But even as we celebrate the forced re-entry of Ebenezer Scrooge into the mainstream of humanity, we do tend to take a certain comfort and joy from the knowledge that the miserly man-we-love-to-hate will be back all the earlier at his counting house, refreshed and rebooted, for the next day’s matinee. And so we welcome him once again this Friday night to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre.

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ON THE GREEN: A GUIDE TO TREE LIGHTINGS

santa-ericson-fhSanta Claus — seen at previous appearances in Fair Haven and Red Bank — maintains a busy schedule this weekend, with no less than six tree-lighting ceremonies on throughout the Greater Red Bank Green. (Photos by Susan Ericson, Peter Lindner)

santa-lindner-rbAs has been the tradition for a generation or more, downtown Red Bank got an early jump on the season of lights with its annual Town Lighting event and concert (check out redbankgreen‘s gallery of images from last Friday). But there’s plenty more Greater Green where that came from — and for those of us who simply can’t get enough complimentary hot cocoa, we’ve got the reindeer rundown on a busy weekend of tree lighting ops.

Read on for details on the festive fun in Fair Haven, Little Silverl Middletown, Rumson, Sea Bright and Red Bank.

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ON THE GREEN: ART SHOWS THIS WEEKEND

thompson-pk-creative-artsThe annual Student/Instructor show and sale returns to Lincroft’s Thompson Park Saturday and Sunday. Below, one of the “artistically tagged fish” up for auction at Little Silver’s Gallery Jupiter, in a Thursday evening event.

21b9f239-955f-44d9-bc4f-76ee7e31e21cIn visual art news on the Greater Red Bank Green, a couple of openings, and a gift gallery, liven up the coming weekend.

The fish are jumping (and getting a crucial jump on the weekend) in Little Silver this Thursday evening, December 1, when Gallery Jupiter (31 Church Street) invites the public to a silent auction of “a school of artistically tagged fish.” Each one-of-a-kind item is offered as a unique gifting idea, and a portion of the proceeds will be dedicated to the Sandy Hook-based nonprofit American Littoral Society and its ongoing conservational/ educational programs in defense of our regional coastline. Wine and refreshments will be served during the Thursday evening event, going on between the hours of 5 to 8 p.m. — while art lovers have plenty more opportunities to hook that elusive Perfect Gift, by reading on.

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RED BANK: CRAFTS, CAROLS, COLLECTIONS

two-river-crafting-carolingIn the spirit of Christmas (and in conjunction with the current production of THE LION IN WINTER), Two River Theater held an evening of crafting, caroling and holiday treats this past weekend, led by local event decorating company #TableSettingIsMyLife. Guests of all ages learned how to make their own Christmas cracker crafts (an English tradition), while the Monmouth Civic Chorus delighted the crafters with festive holiday songs throughout the night. Two River also collected canned good donations for The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

RED BANK: A 24TH NIGHT OF HOLIDAY DAZZLE

rb-town-lighting-112516-4rb-town-lighting-112516-7For the 24th straight year, the feel-jolly sounds of Holiday Express served as the soundtrack to a Town Lighting ceremony that drew thousands of visitors to downtown Red Bank Friday night. Were you among those who braved the drizzle for the dazzle? Check out our photos to see who you might recognize. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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RED BANK: DOWNTOWN READY TO JINGLE

112914 horseride2The clip-clop of classic horse and wagon rides is just one of the seasonal signifiers making an annual return Saturday. 

Just as the open-air Red Bank Town Lighting ceremony of Black Friday gives an electrified jolt to the turkey-fed torpor of Thanksgiving Thursday, so does Small Business Saturday sound the first real ka-ching of the primetime shopping season.

And when the shop-local showcase returns Saturday, it will herald a day of special holiday-themed features that continue every weekend through Christmas Eve, a slate of Santa sightings, holiday hunts, horse-drawn carriage rides, harmonizing performers, mobile mannequins and more — all designed to enhance the hustle and bustle of the shopping experience here in the the area’s undisputed Capital of Christmastime.

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RED BANK: VEGAS TO BROADWAY VIA BASIE

Donny and Marie Osmond, below, bring the holiday cheer and more to the Count Basie Monday… followed by a twice-as-nice engagement by the touring company of the hit musical ONCE, seen in the promo video above.

donny-and-marieTo paraphrase the signature song of a certain fondly recalled TV variety series, it’s a show that’s a little bit Christmas, a little bit something else.

The entertainment-packed November/December schedule at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre makes for especially interesting sked-fellows this time of year — with the holiday season getting into early jingle via offerings like Phoenix Productions’ A Christmas Story: The Musical and this past Monday’s seasonal spectacular starring Brian Setzer, even as recently featured acts like Joe Bonamassa and The Pretenders have offered up a happy-humbug alternative to any potential reindeer overkill.

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RED BANK: AN EXPRESSWAY TO WINTER

wizardsThe Wizards of Winter keep the Yuletide vibe going after dusk with a Saturday night set at the Count Basie Theatre. (Click to enlarge)

It wasn’t all that long ago that the shopping-mall sound systems and merciless muzak machines of the holiday season received a heavy dose of prog-rock bombast that shook the snow from the shingles when an organization that called itself the Trans-Siberian Orchestra released its first Christmas-themed rock opera.

When four touring crewmembers of TSO (including vocalists Guy LeMonnier and Joe Cerisano) opted to pursue their own career track in the early years of this decade, they did so under the acronym of WOW, or Wizards of Winter.

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RED BANK: HOLIDAY EXPRESS TO LIGHT IT UP

112715holidayexp32Tim McLoone, at left above, and the Holiday Express band get some help kicking off another silver-bells season on the sidewalks of Red Bank at Friday night’s annual Town Lighting concert. Jackie Evancho (below) brings a program of holiday songs and hits to the Count Basie stage. (Photo above by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge) 

jackie_evanchoIf it’s accomplished nothing else during its quarter century of continuous service, Red Bank’s annual Town Lighting ceremony has successfully wrested the idea of “Black Friday” from visions of crushing chaos at the mall to one of sing-along harmony in a walkable-wonderland setting of merry commerce and activity.

When the lights are ceremoniously lit in downtown Red Bank for the 24th consecutive year this Friday evening, it will come not a moment too soon for an extended community that really does need a little Christmas, right this very minute. And summoned once more into service like a jinglebell-jukebox Justice League will be Holiday Express, the big traveling winter wall of sound whose founder and skipper Tim McLoone has helped sound the keynote and flip the switch on a generation’s worth of festive occasions in the heart of Red Bank’s downtown diorama.

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RED BANK: SETZER JUMP-STARTS BASIE LINEUP

brian-setzerStray Cat topcat turned big-band ringmaster Brian Setzer, above, tunes up Santa’s souped-up sleigh — and Beat Root Revival (below) lights the way — as the season of nearly non-stop holiday music at the Count Basie Theatre commences Monday.

beat-rootThe official tree has yet to find its base in Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park, and the horse-drawn carriages and surrogate Santas have yet to be sighted on the downtown streets.

But the elves at the Count Basie Theatre, the Greater Red Bank Green’s unofficial Capital of Christmas, already have their workshop in overdrive on a packed slate of Christmastime confections that runs right up to the doorstep of the New Year.

 

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RED BANK: SOIRÉE KICKS OFF HOLIDAY SEASON

rbba-111716-20
rbba-111716-4The first-ever Holiday Soirée thrown by the Red Bank Business Alliance at the Molly Pitcher Inn turned out to be quite the affair, as more than 300 attendees packed two ballrooms to sample small plates, dance, bid on artwork and generally kick off the holiday-party season. In the process, the RBBA raised some $19,000 for two nonprofit organizations — Jason’s Dreams for Kids and Clean Ocean Action.

Check out redbankgreen’s photos below to see who you know. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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LINCROFT: A MEETING OF VOICES AT UUCMC

United WE SingA scene from a past edition of “United We Sing,” the 16th annual presentation of which returns to Lincroft’s Unitarian Meetinghouse this Sunday, November 20.

At a time when it seems the various voices of the American choir are in discord, each shouting out a different tune, it seems more than ever that we could use a little bit of “United We Sing.” And as if on cue, the event of that same name returns to Lincroft this Sunday for a session that encourages neighbors to “come together from our different cultural and faith traditions, to proclaim and celebrate our rich diversity.”

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SHREWSBURY: CYMCA KICKS OFF GIFT DRIVE

cymca-gift-drivePress release from The Community YMCA  

Local residents and businesses are invited to help make the holidays brighter for struggling families in Monmouth County, by giving to The Community YMCA annual holiday gift drive.

Coordinated by the Y’s Counseling and Social Services branch, the gift drive helps to ensure that many of the county’s neediest children and their families can experience the joy and surprise of the holiday season, said Colleen Verriest, Vice President of Counseling and Social Services.

“Strengthening families is at the heart of all we do at The Community YMCA,” Verriest said. “The donated gifts bring great happiness to the children and families who we serve, many of whom are victims of abuse, neglect, in the foster care system, or who have special needs.”

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RED BANK: YOU’LL LAUGH YOUR EYE OUT

christmas-story-phoenixIt’s all present and accounted for, from the Old Man’s leg lamp to Aunt Clara’s bunny suit; from the flagpole double-dog-dare to the Santa Slide at Higbee’s — to say nothing of that official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle. Only this time it’s an all-singing, all-dancing, live action extravaganza that arrives like an early gift package this Friday, November 11.

Based on the beyond-popular 1983 movie of the same name — itself adapted from the writings of humorist Jean Shepherd (who did a memorable turn as the film’s narrator), A Christmas Story: The Musical makes its first-ever appearance on the local stage as the annual holiday-season offering from Phoenix Productions, the resident non-profit stage company at the venerable Count Basie Theatre.

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FAIR HAVEN: TRUCKTOBERFEST AT LAST


102916trucktoberfest11
102916trucktoberfest6After two postponements over the past month, Fair Haven’s inaugural Trucktoberfest finally livened up Fair Haven Fields Saturday, bringing a Halloween egg hunt, horse-driven hayrides, live music and food by the truckload. Check out
redbankgreen‘s photos below to see who you know(Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

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ON THE GREEN: SPOOKY WALKS AND TALKS

FortHancockThe batteries and buildings of Sandy Hook’s Fort Hancock, above, are the setting for a nocturnal ghost-walk sponsored by the American Littoral Society Friday night. Middletown’s fabled “Spy House,” below, hosts a Thursday night lecture on the legendary Jersey Devil. 

seabrook-wilson-houseHere in this history-haunted neck of Olde Monmouth, the Halloween season offers several spine-tingling opportunities to share some of the more curious legends and lore of the Garden State, in settings that range from well-lit modern facilities to those shadowy corners just off the beaten path.

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RED BANK: A HALLOWED TRADITION TURNS 69

rb halloween 101815 43The annual Red Bank Halloween Parade takes to the pavement this Sunday for another colorful display of cosplay and community pride.

rb halloween 101815 10It came in on the leading edge of the Baby Boom wave, way back in 1948 — and when the Red Bank Halloween Parade presents its 69th annual edition this Sunday, October 23, it will represent that rare local custom that’s claimed anew by each succeeding generation of miniature monster, licensed pop-culture character, or float-riding reveler.

A presentation of the borough’s Department of Parks and Recreation, this most enduring (and endearingly nutty) of civic events offers a much-needed fixed point of reference to regular readers of redbankgreen‘s “Retail Churn” and other chroniclers of our ever-evolving town. Together with additional long-running attractions like the warm-weather Riverfest and holiday-season Town Lighting, it’s an all-ages, real-world chance to connect with the community — with an option to dress up, decorate the kiddie stroller (or pet carrier), or simply trick-or-treat yourself to a chance to cheer on the people in your neighborhood.

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FAIR HAVEN: TRUCKTOBERFEST TRIES AGAIN

lighthouse-062516-2fh-trucktoberfest-logoStrollo’s Lighthouse is among the seven food trucks slated to anchor Fair Haven’s Trucktoberfest Saturday, an event that was rescheduled over the threat of rain earlier this month.

Featuring live bands, games and more at Fair Haven Fields on Ridge Road, the event runs from 3 to 9 p.m. For ticket and other info, visit the event’s Facebook page(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: STATION COMPLEX WINS APPROVAL

denholtz-101716-5An architectural rendering shows the Oakland Street side of the proposed project, to be built on the present site of a taxi stand. The existing San Remo restaurant and vacant former Racioppi’s building are in the foreground. (Rendering by Monteforte Architectural Studio. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03An ambitious mixed-use project with 45 apartments and its own parking garage alongside the Red Bank train station won unanimous approval by the planning board Monday night.

Board members praised the plan, by Matawan-based Denholtz Associates, as one that fulfills the vision of the “train station overlay” zone to a tee.

“It seems to me the first project to really take advantage of that designation and be creative,” said board member and borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

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LINCROFT: A FINE DAY IN THOMPSON PARK

scarecrow-thompson-parkThe annual scarecrow contest and pumpkin painting are just two of the family-friendly fall fun activities on tap this Sunday as the annual Thompson Park Day festival lights up the Lincroft headquarters of the Monmouth County Park System. 

thompson-park-dayThe all-too-brief Local Summer may be morphing into warm and fuzzy memories by this point, but as long as the daylight-savings sun continues to shine, the waterways and wooded paths of the Greater Red Bank Green continue to find ways to tempt residents away from the sedentary pleasures of TV sports and other great-indoors diversions.

As evidence, we offer up this Saturday’s Classic Boat Show on the Navesink (see story here) — and on Sunday, the annual return of Thompson Park Day.

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RED BANK: A SEASON’S SOIREE AT THE MOLLY

mollypitcher (1)Press release from Red Bank Business Alliance

On Thursday, November 17, the members of the Red Bank Business Alliance (RBBA) will host their first Holiday Soirée at the Molly Pitcher Inn overlooking the beautiful Navesink River. Scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., the evening of holiday festivities will focus on supporting the business owners, consumers and residents of the Red Bank area, with an emphasis on giving back to the community.

One hundred percent of ticket sales and proceeds from the event will be donated to two locally based nonprofit organizations — Jason’s Dreams for Kids, helping local kids with cancer fulfill their dreams, and Clean Ocean Action, focusing on a project to clean the Navesink River. Guests will enjoy silent auctions, complimentary cocktail tastings, fine fare, drink specials and entertainment.

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LINCROFT: HAUNTED HOUSE CREAKS OPEN

A promo video for the Haunted Theater, which once again invades the Brookdale campus for three weekends beginning this Friday. 

hauntedtheater2015-4We’ve said it before, but while it sometimes seems that the shambling zombies and vamping bloodsuckers of a walk-thru haunted house can’t hold a candle to the horrors of the real world, we do take a strange comfort from the annual appearance of those hooded goblins and snooded ghouls.

So it is here on the Greater Red Bank Green, where Brookdale Haunted Theater creaks open its doors this weekend on what’s become one of the more bizarre local rituals of the calendar year.

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TINTON FALLS: EXPRESS SEEKS HOLIDAY ELVES

townlightingThe Holiday Express band performs at one of its annual Town Lighting public concerts in downtown Red Bank.The humanitarian organization behind the big traveling band is putting out the call for volunteer “warehouse elves” at their Tinton Falls facility.

Every year for the past several decades, Holiday Express founder and co-frontman Tim McLoone leads his big traveling band in a special keynote to the most festive of seasons, as the assembled musicians and singers preside over Red Bank’s annual Town Lighting ceremony with a free open-air, public-welcome concert.

The “Black Friday” tradition is merely one of the more visible manifestations of the musical humanitarian organization that performs dozens of concerts at places that exist well below most people’s radar — the nursing homes, rehab centers, homeless shelters, psychiatric facilities and other locales whose audiences are made up of what McLoone calls the “adult orphans” among us.

While the veteran musician, businessman and entrepreneur observes that the Holiday Express orchestra is the aspect of the organization that “makes the most noise,” he’s quick to point out that the energizing engine is backed up by a formidable freight-train of volunteer support personnel, drivers, techies, and donation/gift processing workers at the nonprofit’s Tinton Falls warehouse facility (938 Shrewsbury Avenue in Tinton Falls). And, effective immediately, the Express is putting out a call for just such a crew of “warehouse elves” — a call that includes, for the first time, an online sign-up.

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CRAVINGS: SUNDAY PORK ROLL

092516porkroll5Natalie Cozzati takes a bite of the breakfast sandwich she craves. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravings“Do I like pork roll?” Red Bank graphic designer and owner of NMC Design Studio Natalie Cozzati rhetorically asks PieHole. “Am I from Jersey? I’ve got to have my pork roll fix. Gotta satisfy that craving.”

Cozzati is not alone in her uniquely Jersey desire. At the Red Bank Farmers’ Market every Sunday this time of year, you’ll find plenty of customers queuing up at Johnny’s Pork Roll truck, patiently waiting to grab their sandwiches.

And don’t call it Taylor Ham, say Cozzati and others in line in the Galleria parking lot.
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FAIR HAVEN: FOOD + FALL = TRUCKTOBERFEST

johnny's pork 061514 4Johnny’s Pork Roll is among the food trucks slated to anchor Fair Haven’s Trucktoberfest Saturday.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[UPDATE, September 29: Because of rain in forecast for Saturday, this event has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 22, and starting and ending an hour earlier than originally planned.]

fh-trucktoberfest-logoOK, so the name turns out not to be as original as organizers thought, given than there was a Trucktoberfest at Monmouth Park less than two weeks ago.

Still, when the Fair Haven version of Trucktoberfest rolls into Fair Haven Fields this Saturday, it will mark the borough’s debut food festival, one with the hipster cred of chow served through a stainless-steel trimmed window.

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