Thousands of celebrants are expected to pack Broad Street in Red Bank for the Holiday Express concert and tree lighting Friday night. (Click to enlarge)


Just as your post-Thanksgiving torpor has begun to set in, the brand-new holiday season gets a spirited start in Red Bank with a celebration of sight and sound Friday night.

It’s time for the 19th annual Holiday Express concert and tree lighting, which includes a Santa parade, dancing and a display of lights – all on tap starting at 5:30 p.m.

In light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, NJ Transit has canceled this year’s Santa Express train from Little Silver to Red Bank. Still, the Kathryn Barnett School of Dance will kick off the festivities by performing festive holiday numbers in front of the Red Bank train station. Music will be provided by the Pipes and Drums of the Atlantic Watch.

Next, Santa will arrive on the scene by fire truck with lights and sirens ablare at approximately 6:30. He’ll lead a bustling parade down Monmouth Street to the Christmas tree, located in the Dublin House Pub courtyard. Santa will magically light the tree and continue the parade to the Holiday Express concert on Broad Street (in front of Garmany).

Celebrating its 800th performance, Holiday Express will do what it does best: put on a rockin’ show. The nonprofit band, including front man Tim McLoone, spreads good cheer throughout the tri-state area on a volunteer basis. This year’s sponsors include Riverview Medical Center, Jersey Mikes’ Subs and Shore Point Distributing Company. Then, with a flash of white light, the town will be lit in all its glory – officially ushering in the season.

The Red Cross will be there to collect monetary donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, says Amanda Lynn, Program Director of Red Bank RiverCenter. Representatives of Lunch Break will also be collecting donations and handing out information. The Breeze and Thunder 106 will also be on hand.