red bank nj holiday express light-up concertThe 30th edition of a dazzling Red Bank event, and the first of one helping local businesses compete, kick off the Christmas season Friday and Saturday.

Here’s what you need to know.Holiday Express bandleader Tim McLoone onstage in 2021. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

• Though there’s rain in the outlook for Friday morning, skies are expected to clear well in time for the start of the high-energy Holiday Express concert and Town Light-Up and lead-up events.

The Weather Channel forecasts temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s, with breezes up to about 15 miles per hour.

The giant band led by Tim McLoone is scheduled to take the stage at Broad and Canal streets for its customary feel-good program of Christmas tunes at 7 p.m., following a performance by the Monmouth Conservatory.

At 8 p.m., a switch gets thrown to illuminate some 150,000 tiny light bulbs strung in trees throughout the downtown shopping district.

Those events follow a solid evening of crosstown merriment that begins at 5:30 p.m. with a special holiday music and dance performance on the plaza at the Two River Theater, on Bridge Avenue. Then, Santa Claus arrives on a Red Bank fire truck to lead a joyful parade down Monmouth street to the concert site.

• The following day, this year’s edition of Small Business Saturday comes with a money saver for shoppers and diners dubbed ‘Red Bank Bucks.’

A production of the downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter – which also hosts Friday’s events – here’s how it works:

  • Free vouchers valued at $25 will be given away for use at one of the participating downtown businesses listed below
  • The ‘bucks’ will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a limit of one coupon per person starting 1o a.m. Saturday at the Red Bank Visitors Center, 140 Broad Street, near the corner of Reckless Place/Harding Road
  • Vouchers must be used in person (not online) and are valid Saturday only

Participating businesses as of early Friday (with additions possible):

• On Sunday, Barbizon Holiday Mannequins bring storefronts to life in a pose-striking way from 1 to 4 p.m.

• Parking is free downtown Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and again from December 12 through Christmas Day.

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