Charlie Hoffmann with parks attendant Celestine Woods at Riverside Gardens Park in 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Charlie Hoffmann, who has directed Red Bank’s parks and recreation department for the past five years, is leaving town.
The announcement of his departure at the council’s semimonthly meeting Wednesday sparked a “pile-on” of praise for Hoffmann’s work, which included organizing everything from sports and cultural offerings to this weekend’s Spring Egg Hunt.
Hoffmann, right, with Mayor Pasquale Menna and Councilwoman Kathy Horgan at the 2017 Halloween parade, above, and the Veteran’s Day ceremony in 2018. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
“Nobody goes home in tears,” Hoffmann told redbankgreen Thursday. If a child winds up empty-handed after the ground at Count Basie Fields has been scoured of its 8,000 plastic eggs, he always has a few spares he can nonchalantly drop nearby for the child to find, he said.
Hoffmann is leaving April 2 to become parks and rec director in Rumson, he confirmed. He’ll be making a little bit more money, he said, but the job change isn’t about that. It’s about “new opportunities,” he said.
It’s also got zero to do with politics, he said, offering praise for the backing he said he’s gotten from elected officials and others at borough hall. They’ve treated his department “like Switzerland” during his tenure, he said.
“This council’s been great,” he said. “They’re supportive, and as involved as any council I’ve seen. If there’s a movie in the park or any other event, they show up and help out.”
The feeling was mutual during the council session, conducted via Zoom as a pandemic precaution.
“He had great, creative ideas,” said Councilman Erik Yngstrom, who served as liaison to the parks and rec committee for two years, and participated in its ‘Couch to 5k’ program for new runners. “He helped everybody, small and large.”
“Without him, we would not have done anything worthwhile,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna.
“It would be wrong of me not to pile on to the love for Charlie,” said Councilwoman Kate Triggiano. “When you come up with ideas and work with a team, there are certain individuals who really rise to the occasion, and Charlie was one of them.”
She cited Hoffmann for quick turnaround in organizing a Valentine’s Day event for seniors and children and virtual tai chi classes this year. “I just have an immense amount of respect for him and his organizing skills,” she said.
“I just want to say what an honor and privilege it was to work with him,” said district schools Superintendent Jared Rumage. “He was a tremendous resource for our community and for our children and families.”
As reported by redbankgreen in 2016, Hoffmann became smitten with organizing sports events as an 11-year-old in Sayreville, and studied recreation at Coastal Carolina University.
After three years running the Fair Haven parks and rec program, he made a switch to corporate life, a change he regretted, he said. “I sat in a cubicle daydreaming” about rec, he said.
Telling his Red Bank colleagues he was moving on was “like saying, ‘hey, kids, Dad’s moving to Florida,” but he’s glad his departure will spark a new cycle of change in the department, he said. (The job posting is here.)
The 41-year-old Belmar resident is also completing a children’s book he wrote for young first-time skiers.
The Spring Egg Hunt is scheduled for Saturday, 10 a.m. sharp, at Count Basie Fields. Masks must be worn, and parents are asked to bring bags or baskets to carry the eggs. To help maintain social distances, parents of all but the youngest children will be asked to sit in the stands during the event.
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