img_3409100209NAACP Red Bank chapter president Rev. Henry P. Davis leads a convocation prayer at the event. (Click to enlarge)

A bust of native son William ‘Count’ Basie stood, without any official public acknowledgment, inside the Red Bank train station for so long that Dr. Gene Cheslock, was growing frustrated.

The bronze bust had been commissioned by Cheslock and fellow Little Silver resident Ray Brennan to commemorate the 2004 centennial of the bandleader’s birth. But that milestone past without a ceremony coming together to formally unveil the likeness.

“I was going to mount a campaign: ‘Free the Count,'” Cheslock told redbankgreen with a laugh last Friday, when he finally got his wish.

basie-bust-triA small crowd of onlookers gathered, above left, for the bust dedication. At right, benefactors Ray Brennan, left, and Dr. Gene Cheslock, right, chat with a Basie cousin, Red Bank resident Phyllis Rudrow. (Click to enlarge)

Several dozen fans and representatives of local arts organizations gathered at the Monmouth Street plaza outside the station late Friday afternoon for the long-overdue event, for which the bust had been moved to a new, permanent outdoor location in a raised landscape bed.

Despite his years of frustration, Cheslock said the delay turned out to be fortunate. “With all the construction that’s gone on here at the station, who knows what was going to happen” to the bust, he said.