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RB SALT brine 012116 fh ice 012116 2Salt brine markings on Spring Street in Red Bank and dozens of kids on the ice at McCarter Pond in Fair Haven signaled the late arrival of true winter on the Greater Red Bank Green Thursday.

For emphasis, Mother Nature is planning a blizzard that’s expected to bring “extremely dangerous” travel conditions and possible power outages as a result of heavy wet snow, strong wind gusts and flooding, the National Weather Service forecasts. The region is expected to get about a foot of snow between Friday night and early Sunday morning, the NWS says. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


BROAD ST 122810Broad Street in Red Bank following a December, 2010 snowstorm. Below, a forecast map from the National Weather Service indicates a snowfall of 14 inches is “most likely” in on the Greater Red Bank Green this weekend, but could range as high as 22 inches. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


snow forecast 012116The National Weather Service issued a weekend blizzard watch Thursday morning for the region that includes the Greater Red Bank Green.

Late in the morning, crews from the Red Bank public utilities began laying salt brine on every street in town in an effort to keep the roads safe and delay the start of plowing efforts, DPU director Cliff Keen told redbankgreen.

“I think we’re ready,” said Keen, who’s overseeing his first snow challenge since replacing Gary Watson as department head last month. Most of the department’s staff was also on board for the 2010 blizzard, he notes.

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rb snow 011716 1The Greater Green got its first coating of snow of Winter 2016 Sunday evening, as seen on the fishing pier in Red Bank’s Marine Park.

With temperatures hovering just below 30 degrees, roads and sidewalks were expected to be icy Monday morning. The day’s forecast called for abundant sunshine, but no great rise in temperature through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service(Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rb ice 010616After a two-day dalliance with winter, seen Wednesday in the form of an icy puddle on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank, the Greater Green returns to relatively warmer weather in the days ahead, according to the National Weather Service.

Over the next five days, nighttime temperatures are expected to be well above freezing, with daytime temps climbing daily until through Monday, according to the NWS forecast.

Looking beyond that, however, we can expect actual winter to hit us “with a vengeance” later this month and next, according to NJ.com (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Press release from Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee

Jack C HowleyThe Fourth Annual Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on Sunday, March 13, 2016, beginning at 1 pm. The day will be complete with music, bag pipe bands, floats, marching bands from area high schools, Irish Step Dancers, classic cars, veteran groups, scouting organizations, non-profit organizations, schools, novelty acts, and area business and civic groups.

Mayor John Ekdahl and members of the borough council enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of this recently established local tradition, first organized in 2013. As she has since the event’s inception, JoAnn Pileggi of Fox 29 News Philadelphia will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and named as the 2016 Grand marshal is Jack C. Howley (pictured), president of Howley Financial Group, LLC and a founding board member and supporter of the Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee.

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SouthsideBasieNewYrsSouthside Johnny reignite a New Year’s Eve tradition this Thursday night.

“I’d wish you a merry Christmas,”  Southside Johnny Lyon told Count Basie Theatre crowd during one of the many Hope Concert fundraisers that he’s participated in over the years. “But it would be out of character.”

Maybe Christmas and Southside Johnny are an uneasy mix. This, after all, is the guy who’s been introduced by no less a Santa surrogate than Bruce Springsteen as the Grinch incarnate onstage. But you can hardly call him a holiday humbug in light of the traditional Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes New Year’s Eve party that returns to Red Bank following a one-year hiatus.

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givingtreePictured (left to right) at Red Bank Regional High School are RBR SOURCE Director Suzanne Keller, Youth Development Specialist Regina Cochrane, and RBR BUC Backer Foundation member Claire Harbeck Izzo, with the many donated gifts for RBR families in need. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Every year, The SOURCE Foundation at Red Bank Regional High School works to make the holidays brighter for its families in need. This year, partnering with the RBR BUC Backers Foundation, The SOURCE was able to quadruple its efforts through the Virtual Giving Tree program. Over $5,000 in gifts was donated within a two-week period that will benefit over 30 families.

“Our clinicians know the needs of our families and we obtain specific information on what our families can use for the holidays,” explained SOURCE director Suzanne Keller. “We would ask for donations among our staff and the school community, by placing the requests on a ‘Giving Tree’ in the school.”

Enter Claire Harbeck Izzo — a BUC Backer member and administrator for the Constant Contact email service — who thought that people might be more inclined to give if the process was simplified online. Through an amazing tool called Sign-Up Genius, Mrs. Izzo created a virtual list of all the specific needs requested by the SOURCE families and linked it to the BUC Backer email list. The slots were quickly and almost completely filled.

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Black Nativity 2010A cast of some 45 actors, singers, dancers and community members brings the theatrical gospel celebration BLACK NATIVITY back to the Count Basie Theatre this Sunday, December 27, in the return of a local tradition from Dunbar Repertory Company. (Photo courtesy Richard Krauss)  

When it was first presented to Broadway audiences back in 1961, the theatrical experience known as Black Nativity was little more than a 40-page outline of a script on paper; an adaptation of the Gospel of St. Luke that was infused with the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes. In their fully fleshed form, however, the words came to life through a mix of traditional spirituals like “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” African American dance forms, colorful costumes, and an improvisatory element that encourages local clergy, schoolchildren and public officials to get into the act everywhere that Nativity has become the stuff of tradition, from Savannah, GA to Seattle, WA and numerous points between.

Beginning about the turn of the new millennium, Black Nativity became the stuff of Monmouth County tradition, when Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. first presented its “powerful message of joy, hope, victory and liberation” at Manasquan’s landmark Algonquin Theatre, in a staging by Dunbar Repertory Company, the producer-director’s grassroots troupe dedicated to presenting the works of African American playwrights. Re-emerging at the Count Basie Theatre in 2010 (where Willis, a now-retired faculty member at Brookdale Community College, has served as a board member for ten years), the production quickly staked out a place as a year-end centerpiece of community life for performing artists and church congregations from all around Monmouth. Following a one-year hiatus, Black Nativity returns to the Basie stage this Sunday afternoon, December 27, for its fifth Red Bank appearance — a re-energized and highly anticipated extension of the Yueltide season, about which Willis found time to chat with redbankgreen.

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tim mcloone holidayIn what has become an annual tradition at Christian Brothers Academy, over 40 students from CBA and Trinity Hall helped spread some holiday cheer on Thursday, December 17 during the annual Holiday Express Christmas Party. Students and faculty joined Tim McLoone (at keyboard) and the bandmembers and support team of Holiday Express for a day of Christmas fun and dancing, all to help adults with special needs and disabilities enjoy this special time of year. (More photos after the story break)

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Bandiera HopeDeborah Harry, below, and a host of pop stars join Bobby Bandiera for two jinglebell-jam spectaculars as Hope Concert 8 commandeers the Basie for two shows Wednesday night.

deborah harryCall him Bob Hope: a seasoned and savvy entertainer who’s made some formidable friends, logged many a lap around the globe, raised a flotilla of funds, and marshaled a major entertainment campaign every holiday season.

But while the original Mr. Hope famously brought his USO-show mix of radio-era comedy, go-go-booted dancers and patriotic spirit to the troops back in the day, Bobby Bandiera calls an elite troupe of all-star buddies back to the boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre each December for an operation that’s designed to do good and lift morale on the home front.

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melton event 121815 1 melton event 121815 2Family members and friends from throughout Monmouth County gathered at Calvary Baptist Church in Red Bank Friday evening to remember slain borough teacher Jonelle Melton. Organizers also spotlighted law enforcement officials who investigated and recently charged  three men in the her 2009 slaying. Though the case is not yet closed, police and prosecutors deserved to be recognized for “keeping their word and doing something positive,” said co-organizer Linda Clark. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)



StockingStuffingOfficialForty members of the National Spanish Honor Society at Red Bank Regional High School spent their afternoon stuffing stockings filled with sweet treats for American troops stationed in the Middle East. Accompanying the stockings will be home-made cards by the students expressing their sentiments to the soldiers. “It is so difficult for our troops to spend their holiday away from family and loved ones,” explained Society Advisor Lisa Boyle, who was inspired to put together the project when she recently met the girlfriend of a soldier in the 32nd Infantry, currently stationed in Afghanistan. “The students wanted to send them a special treat so they know we are thinking of them and ever appreciative of their sacrifice for us at home.” 


Brian KirkBrian Kirk and the Jirks (above) play Santa for Lunch Break, in a Saturday night benefit at the Basie…while Dr. Ryan Brandau (below) and the Monmouth Civic Chorus premiere a new Christmas choral arrangement on that Sunday stage. 

director-brandauThey may seem hard to reconcile musically, in their oil-and-water realms of choral-canon classics and party-starting pop hits. But, each in their own signature manner, the organizations known as Brian Kirk & the Jirks and The Monmouth Civic Chorus have earned a place in the hearts of their fervent followers here on the greater Red Bank green. And, every year at this time, the Jersey Shore’s premier cover band and the award-winning vocal ensemble give back to the community, with a couple of highly anticipated events at that Capital of Christmas cheer — the Count Basie Theatre.

The final weekend of the Yuletide countdown kicks off on Saturday, December 19, when cap’n Kirk and his enterprising bandmates suit up and play Santa for Lunch Break, the borough-based community resource that provides year-round meals (and a whole lot more) to Red Bank families and residents of all ages. A sequel to last year’s successful big-beat benefit (and the fourth such “Santa for…” soiree that Kirk and company have staged since 2012), the “three-hour jingle balling of a show” commences at 8 pm with the chief Jirk (whose summertime “Dunesday” beach-bash benefits have been a Shore tradition unto themselves) promising a mix of danceable tunes, “Kirky Style” comedy and special musical guests, in a variety presentation that’s sponsored by “generous anonymous donors” and dedicated in full to funding the ongoing mission of Lunch Break’s volunteers, and their ever-expanding range of charitable, educational and support services for our community neighbors. Take it here for tickets ($35 – $75); bring a non-perishable food item for Lunch Break’s holiday food drive (or make a separate cash donation here) — and read on for more.

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Atrium_Res_Bill_Wheatley_&_AmberBill Wheatley (left), a resident of The Atrium at Navesink Harbor who’s known as one of Santa’s favorite helpers, displays a Santa-sized haul of hats and mittens with Amber Graves (right) of the Riverside Avenue senior community. Inspired by Candace Christianson’s story The Mitten Tree, Bill and fellow resident Barbara Withers coordinated a Mitten Drive that has so far collected over 50 hats and pairs of mittens for Red Bank Primary School kids. As Atrium communications specialist Mary Kelly reports, “Bill spreads the joy of the holidays throughout the year. Bringing cheer, he shares his musical talents on the harmonica performing at holiday parties, birthdays and happy hours. Pitch perfect, he’s a hit with our residents and just a treat to be around.” 


Christmas_Greens_ChairsRumson Garden Club president Diane Guidone (center) is pictured with Christmas Greens co-chairs Liz Dusko (left) and Angela Bennink (right), during the club’s annual initiative to supply “Holly Day” cheer to hard-working area nonprofits.

Press release from Rumson Garden Club

For over 80 years, the Rumson Garden Club, a member club of Garden Club of America, has held its annual Christmas Green Workshop on the first Saturday in December; a project designed to spread holiday cheer and help local non-for-profits deck their halls.

Since its inception in 1930, the Workshop’s boughs of holly, boxwood, magnolia, pine and spruce have been clipped from members’ properties, and brought to Bingham Hall. There the members gather to create evergreen centerpieces, embellish wreaths, stuff candy into bags and to herald the start of the holiday season. The wreaths, table pieces and candy bags are then delivered to local care facilities, libraries, museums, community centers, and other not-for-profit establishments.

This year, the RGC helped spread “Holly Day” cheer to the following community organizations: Parker Family Clinic, Love Inc., Monmouth Historical Society, John Montgomery House, History House, King James Care Center, Meridian Health Care Center, Rumson Borough Hall, Oceanic Public Library, Lunch Break, St. Marks Keansburg Center for Community Renewal, and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Asbury Park and Red Bank.

“It’s my favorite RGC activity,” said 50-year member Nancy Dickson of the project that also serves as a great opportunity for several generations of participants to work side-by-side and share stories. “It’s so worthwhile, and a wonderful way for members to get together and give back to the community.”

In addition to their annual creation of dozens of  wreaths, dozens of centerpieces and hundreds of bags of candy,  this year the Christmas Greens volunteers created 100 small arrangements for the meal trays for Red Bank Area Meals on Wheels clients. Little is wasted, as left-over greens are ferried to the Oceanic Public Library to fill their window boxes with seasonal greenery.

Serving as co-chairs for the 2015 Workshop were Liz Dusko and Angela Bennink, who commented that  “There is so much creativity, talent, camaraderie and good spirits to go around…it’s great fun to be a part of Christmas Green Workshop and know that everything you do will bring a smile to someone’s face.”