Di-Ionno-Headshot_Full-001-featuredStar-Ledger journalist Mark DiIonno is the guest speaker for a Wednesday evening reception “Celebrating Past, Present and Future,” at the county Park System’s Thompson Park headquarters.

“Celebrating Past, Present and Future” is the broad-reaching theme  — and New Jersey’s 350th birthday year is the occasion — as the Thompson Park homebase of the Monmouth County Park System hosts a special opening reception in advance of Thursday’s 2014 NJ History and Historic Preservation Conference at Brookdale Community College.

On Wednesday evening, June 4, an assembly of historians, academics, civic dignitaries and preservation-minded members of the general public will convene inside the Thompson Hall administrative building at the county park on Newman Springs Road, for a 5:30 pm event that should be of interest to anyone who’s interested in the rescue and renovation of such historic sites as Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune House, and Little Silver’s Parker Homestead. A benefit for the nonprofit New Jersey History Advocates, the event boasts the participation of a uniquely Jersey voice — that of Star-Ledger ace reporter Mark DiIonno.

The veteran journalist and recently minted novelist (The Last Newspaperman) is scheduled to deliver a keynote address that “will help honor legislators, media members and leaders who have made significant contributions to advance history and historic preservation in New Jersey.” Tickets ($35) can be purchased here, with all proceeds to benefit NJ History Advocates. Take it here for registration and full details on the June 5 conference at BCC.

Thompson Park itself takes center stage at a separate event on Wednesday night, as the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury invites the whole family to “take a journey through time and relive the days when Thompson Park was a premier Thoroughbred training and breeding estate.” Hear the stories about the Thompson family, their famous friends — and the farm that produced the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby — in this 7 pm event on June 4, part of a Month of the Horse observance at the Eastern Branch.