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ON THE GREEN: WALK INTO THE NEW YEAR

labyrinth_uucmcAn indoor “labyrinth” walk at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse — and an outdoor excursion in the fresh and bracing air of Sandy Hook — offer opportunities for reflection and community on New Year’s Day.  

sandy hook sign 070415The resolutions that we make on New Year’s Eve may represent some bold and fearless talk, but in the cold light of New Year’s Day, it’s not always so easy to walk that walk.

Fortunately, some forward-thinking neighbors on the Greater Red Bank Green are inviting all members of the community to start 2017 off on a good foot or two.

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ON THE GREEN: WHERE TO WELCOME 2017

SouthsideBasieNewYrsThe champagne corks are poppin’ as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes continue a Count Basie New Year’s Eve tradition this Saturday night.

HOT-TOPIC_03Here at the tail end of a year that many people are all too anxious to put in the rear view mirror, there’s still sufficient cause to keep the party percolating right up to the last ball-drop. And in the bars, restaurants and performance spaces of the Greater Red Bank Green, revelers have a choice of options that range from an intimate table at a favorite bistro to a big event that’s become the toast of all New Year’s Eve Extravaganzas in the state of New Jersey.

Here’s a sampling from Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson and Sea Bright nightspots.

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RED BANK: TWO RIVER KEEPS THE LIGHTS UP

The luminescent artistry of Lightwire Theater is on display from December 27 to 30 as the Two River Theater hosts the New Orleans-based troupe in a music-infused, family friendly show.

very-electric-xmasWhile we’re not recommending leaving the Christmas lights up into the season of Independence Day fireworks, there’s something to be said for staying plugged in past December 25.

Beginning Tuesday, December 27 — the same day Red Bank observes the Festival of Lights with its official town menorah at the train station — the Two River Theater plays host to the family-friendly touring show A Very Electric Christmas, in a multi-day engagement that marks its first-ever exposure to Shore area audiences.

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RBR HELPS LOCALS, TROOPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

rbr-xmas

Pictured above with a mountain of donated gifts from Red Bank Regional staff and parents are (left to right) BUC Backer  member Judy Noglows, RBR SOURCE Youth Development Specialist Lori Lopez, SOURCE Liaison Claire Harbeck Izzo, and SOURCE Director Suzanne Keller. Below, RBR teacher Cassandra Dorn displays some of the many presents collected by staffers and students for the Tinton Falls nonprofit Linkages.

linkages2016Press releases from Red Bank Regional High School

The Red Bank Regional (RBR) School District conducts numerous community service activities during the holidays, from helping homeless families in Monmouth County, buying livestock to address world hunger, creating holiday cards for kids in hospitals and sending stockings stuffed with sweets to our troops in the Middle East.

But at the same time they also look inward — and through a partnership between the in-school program The SOURCE and the BUC Backer Foundation, RBR helps fill wishes for families within our own school who would otherwise not know such happy holidays.

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RED BANK: BANDIERA AND ‘HOPE’ AT BASIE

bobby_bandiera_and_jon_bon_jovi_at_hope_concert_8_2015Bobby Bandiera, joined here by longtime tourmate Jon Bon Jovi at a past Hope Concert, brings the ninth edition of his all-star benefit show back to the Basie Friday.

donegoodlogoIt’s just about the last of the big holiday-themed entertainment events to take the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank each December — a frankly awesome rock and roll extravaganza that plants a glittering star atop the tree at an eleventh hour when various Scrooges, Nutcrackers and vocal choirs have scurried off to their last-minute shopping excursions.

Ask Bobby Bandiera and he’ll probably tell you that a dose of charitable spirit is more important than ever in the final countdown to Christmas and Hanukkah — and that the day-to-day survival of our neediest neighbors doesn’t take a holiday break when the rest of the community settles into its family traditions.

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RED BANK: KENNY ROGERS TO MAKE LAST STOP

kenny-rogersKenny Rogers — now on the Christmas leg of his farewell concert tour — returns to the Basie Wednesday with a “Gambler’s Last Deal” show that features special guest Linda Davis, below.

linda-davis-sara-kaussIt’s branded “The Gambler’s Last Deal” — a special “Christmas & Hits” holiday-concert leg of the final, forever, farewell worldwide tour of one of country-pop’s most celebrated crossover artists.

On Wednesday night, Kenny Rogers takes it to the stage of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for a program of custom-roasted Yuletide chestnuts, platinum-plated signature songs, stories, and a multimedia element that “will include a reflective look back through Rogers’ storied 50-plus-year career.”

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LINCROFT: AN EXPRESS STOP AT CBA

cba-holiday-expressTim McLoone leads the Holiday Express musicians in a December 15 appearance at Christian Brothers Academy, where the big band entertained a group of special needs young people.

Press release from Christian Brothers Academy 

On Thursday, December 15, the McKay Gym at Christian Brothers Academy was once again transformed into a rocking holiday event hall, as part of Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express Christmas Party.

“This is the best day of the year,” said Tim Sewnig, Director of CBA’s Campus Ministry, of the event held each year to help young adults with special needs get in the Christmas spirit. The Academy hosts several holiday season fundraisers each year — a winter coat drive, collection for children with pediatric cancer, and Thanksgiving food drive to name a few — but this event has a special place amongst them.

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RED BANK: FREE HOLIDAY PARKING IN EFFECT

rb-free-parking-121416LicPlate1A merchant we spoke to at the Galleria of Red Bank didn’t know this, so redbankgreen offers this reminder to all would-be shoppers: parking is free in all municipal spots, both on the street and in the lots, through December 25. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: EXPRESSWAY TO OUR HEARTS

tim-mcloone-112516-1Tim McLoone (seen presiding over the annual Town Lighting concert in downtown Red Bank) conducts the Holiday Express band back into station stop Basie for a pair of public-welcome shows on December 19 and 20 — with an all-aboard for volunteer “warehouse elves” at the nonprofit’s Tinton Falls facility.

VIP-level attendees at many Count Basie Theatre events have never been averse to paying as much as several hundred dollars over base ticket price, to enjoy such perks as premium seating, autographed tour souvenirs, and personal meet-and-greet opportunities with the featured attractions. But as far as Tim McLoone and Holiday Express are concerned, there are some ultra-exclusive events that remain off limits at any price.

It isn’t because you’re not cool enough, connected enough, or cash-money enough to score tickets. It’s just that admission to those performances is available to you only if you’re one of the more than 15,000 residents of regional homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, developmental centers, children’s wards and other places that form the heart of the Holiday Express itinerary — places whose residents are often without any family or friends, and whose sole ray of light is that annual visit by the big jinglebell juggernaut of a band.

Fortunately for the rest of us, the Express regularly detours from its tight timetable at this time each year, to play a double-header of fundraiser shows at station stop Basie; a tradition that continues this coming Monday and Tuesday, December 19 and 20.

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RED BANK, MIDDLETOWN: JOY TO THE EARS

shrews-chorale-christ-episcopalNeil F. Brown conducts the Shrewsbury Chorale, above, and Ryan Brandau, below, leads the Monmouth Civic Chorus, as the local vocal organizations present their annual Christmas concerts this Sunday.

director-brandauBlessed as it is with a well-above-average amount of choral voice talent — and numerous, well-established outlets for those voices to be heard — the Greater Red Bank Green is indisputably the area’s epicenter of classic carols and cantatas of Christmas.

And, with the New Jersey Chamber Singers and Tower Hill Choir having had their glorious say this past weekend, two more long-running organizations are on deck to herald the season in their own inimitable way, at a pair of concurrent concert events taking place this Sunday.

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RED BANK: BACH’IN AROUND THE XMAS TREE

vladkovalsky2Monmouth Conservatory director and pianist Vladislav Kovalsky, above, welcomes jazz pianist Sandy Sasso, below, for a holiday concert this Saturday.

sandy-sassoWe already know that the long-running, best-kept-secret Red Bank institution known as the Monmouth Conservatory of Music has been a blessing and a boon to the “classically curious” — those looking for an intimately scaled, no-pressure introduction to great music that’s packed with an impressive roster of guest artists, free of pretension, and often free of charge.

When the MCM’s Chamber Orchestra and executive director Vladislav Kovalsky perform a public-welcome holiday concert this Saturday, they’ll be offering up an “all Bach and Holiday” program of sacred and devotional music, one that should deliver the requisite warm ‘n fuzzies for aficionados of the form. It will also unpack a cool and sassy surprise.

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LITTLE SILVER: RBR SENDS HOLIDAY CHEER

cardsforkidsofficialTaking a break from studies to create homemade cards for children who will be spending their holidays in hospitals are (left to right) Red Bank Regional High School students Nicole Gaillard, Saloni Ajami, Sammie Feder, Shelley Banfield, Charlotte Jansky, Dannielle Wolf, RBR teacher Jennifer Casaine, Kay Franzese, Jael Cross, and Ash Riegler. RBR teacher Cassandra Dorn (not pictured) assists with the program, part of a nationwide Cards for Hospitalized Kids initiative that has sent cards to over 100,000 hospitalized children throughout the United States. 

LINCROFT: UUCMC OPEN TO ALL ON CHRISTMAS

UUCMCNJPress release from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County

The holidays are a time that can be difficult for those who may not have family close by to share in cheer. This Christmas Day, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County — a non-creedal congregation that encourages each person to articulate their own faith, and to listen deeply to what calls them to life — is opening their doors to all members of the local community.

Whether they find themselves separated from loved ones or are looking to start their day in a meaningful way among friends and neighbors, people of all faiths are welcome to attend this special December 25 gathering.

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LINCROFT: CBA, TRINITY HALL RAISE $7,500+

cba-sadd-food-drive-2016Students from Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft) and Trinity Hall (Tinton Falls) teamed up to prepare and serve dinner to more than 240 attendees last Tuesday, raising over $7,500 in the process. 

Press release from Christian Brothers Academy

On December 6, the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapters of Christian Brothers Academy and Tinton Falls-based Trinity Hall teamed up once again for their 10th annual “Dinner for the Troops.”

Convening in the CBA cafeteria, students handled all the preparations and cooking for 240 guests, while raising over $7,500 in the process. All funds raised will go towards supporting servicemen and servicewomen stationed overseas. The evening also featured guest speaker Sgt. Melissa Leist, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, who shared her thoughts on military service.

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RED BANK: DECORATING CONTEST RETURNS

holiday-lightsPress release from Red Bank Parks and Recreation

Red Bank borough residents will be rewarded for their holiday decorating efforts through a town-sponsored home decorating contest that offers prizes for the best presentations.

Judging will be for the exterior decoration only, and prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. Winners will be selected from residents who register for the contest by the deadline of Friday, December 16.  Judging will take place the week of December 18, and awards will be presented at an upcoming council meeting.

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RED BANK: HOOK & LADDER IS SANTA’S HELPER

nav-hook-ladder-xmasWith The Big Red Guy and his hard-working crew busy as ever over the coming holiday, a group of borough-based volunteer responders is lending a hand (and a big red piece of heavy equipment) on behalf of Red Bank kids.

From now through Friday, December 16, Red Bank residents can register a young family member to receive a personal “Santa Present Drop” visit at their home the following Friday evening — with Santa Claus arriving through the courtesy of the men and women of the Navesink Hook and Ladder company. A fire truck will convey Santa around town, with lights flashing and siren blaring, as he makes a very special pre-Christmas delivery to each address on his list.

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RED BANK: FOUR BIG CHRISTMAS EVENTS

vienna_boys_choirThe Vienna Boys Choir, above, returns to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre on December 12, and the New Jersey Chamber Singers, below make their annual Yuletide stop at Red Bank’s United Methodist Church Friday.

NJCSClassic Christmas carols, cantatas and the most cherished of Yuletide ballets fill up the calendar this time of year. Read on for details on traditional holiday offerings from the Tower Hill Choir, the Company of Dance Arts, and a musical organization that traces its ancestry back more than 600 years.

 

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MIDDLETOWN: A WINTER 1ST AT STONE CHURCH

allsaintsThe Greater Red Bank Green has never lacked for historic churches and meetinghouses, and beginning this weekend one of its most picturesque places of worship — All Saints Memorial — will be initiating an all-new tradition at the landmark “Old Stone Church” (located at the crossroads of Navesink and Monmouth Avenues, just inland from Route 36). Going on over the course of three days, December 9 through 11, the first annual Winter Festival offers a rain-or-shine range of attractions that include homemade refreshments, handcrafted gifts, kid-friendly activities — and, as a centerpiece, a Live Nativity scene on view at the church’s historic carriage-shed outbuildings.

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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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