SANTAS, EDDIES TO OCCUPY BROAD STREET

christmasvacationIt’s full! The number of aspiring Cousin Eddies taking part in the second annual EddieCon pub crawl has been capped at twenty — but there’s still room for not-so-secret Santas to hitch up to the SantaCom team, also going on around Red Bank this Saturday afternoon.

By TOM CHESEK

bad-santaHe appears right around this time each year, making people smile; a familiar figure instantly recognizable by his trademark headgear and his distinctive transportation.

We’re talking of course about Cousin Eddie, the boorish ne’er-do-well played by Randy Quaid in various Vacation movies — specifically Christmas Vacation (and its direct-to-video sequel). The image of Eddie, clad in bathrobe and flap-eared trapper hat, has been burned into our nation’s pop-cultural consciousness in recent years. And on Saturday, December 17, downtown Red Bank revelers and strolling shoppers may encounter another “thing you can’t un-see,” when nearly two dozen Cousin Eddies take to the streets (and saloons) in support of a worthy cause, as part of the newly minted local tradition known as EddieCon.

And by some Christmas magic, Saturday also marks the first appearance in Red Bank of SantaCon, the international pub-crawl phenomenon described as “a non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical Santa Claus convention that occurs once a year for absolutely no reason.”

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KETTLE COMPETITION HEATS UP

girlsAction from the 2010 girls’ championship game between Forrestdale and Knollwood. (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

The Salvation Army Red Bank Corps building on Newman Springs Road is the setting for the seventh annual “high squeal factor” Red Kettle Classic youth basketball tournament Saturday.

Featuring the boys and girls teams of Knollwood Middle School, Forrestdale Middle School, Red Bank Charter School, St. James School and Holy Cross School, as well as the Red Bank Youth Team, the tourney is sponsored by United Teletech Financial.

First game tip off at 8:45 a.m., with concessions, free megaphones and admission just one dollar for students (or free with donation of nonperishable food item).

Game participants will receive complimentary tournament T-shirts, goody bags, participant certificates, and possible selection to the coveted “All-Tournament Team” made up of game MVPs. Call (908)902-2203 or email for more info.

Salvation Army Jane H. Booker Community Center, Newman Springs Rd., Red Bank • 8:30am/ $4 adults, $1 students

SAVOUR THE HOLIDAY FLAVOUR

sonnykennmcoconnorJersey Shore guitar master Sonny Kenn provides the sonic spice as the Red Bank Flavour culinary campaign kicks off with a special holiday season smorgasbord benefit Thursday night at the Oyster Point.

The culinary consortium that is Red Bank Flavour marks its first holiday-season interlude with a happening that could be the start of a new December tradition on the picturesque banks of the Navesink, when the river-view ballroom of the Oyster Point Hotel hosts a special Holiday Flavour event Thursday evening.

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PASTA, POULTRY & GOOD DEEDS ON THE SIDE

DSC_0128The most eagerly anticipated touch football event of the season takes place on November 26, when the annual Turkey Bowl raises funds for Jason’s Dream for Kids, at Thompson Middle School in Middletown.

donegoodlogoMaintaining the available blood supply here in the most densely populated state of the union is serious business — which is not to say that the dedicated staff at  Central Jersey Blood Center doesn’t get to have a little fun at certain times of the year.

Following a Halloween interval in which they helped Phoenix Productions preview the bloody operetta Sweeney Todd and solicited donations from the thousands who marched and shambled in Asbury Park’s NJ Zombie Walk, the CJBC van returns to Red Bank today, November 11, for a Veterans Day blood drive hosted at the Pearl Street location of Arrow Limousine.

Scheduled for 9am to 2pm, the blood drive offers an additional incentive to registered donors: a chance to win a “Dare to Dream” prize package that includes a chauffered Thanksgiving family excursion for up to six people, with tickets to see Disney On Ice at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford.

Donors can register or obtain additional information at 732-747-4844 — and we’re serving up five more full courses of Done Good right around the corner.

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A PORTION-CONTROLLED SIDE OF ZEET

zeet-peabody-1Zeet Peabody, executive chef at the new JBJ Soul Kitchen, which features crisp design inside and a vegetable and herb garden out front. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

soul-kitchen1The star power at Wednesday’s opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank belonged, of course, to the restaurant’s main sponsor, Jon Bon Jovi.

But while the the telegenic pop star may continue to volunteer his time washing dishes at the Monmouth Street pay-what-you-can eatery, patrons will be on intimate terms with Zeet Peabody, the restaurant’s executive chef.

Along with his kitchen crew and wait staff, he’s the one who’ll be there most of the time. More importantly, he’s be the one who’ll decide what goes onto the plates, and how those dishes will elevate the eatery to destination status.

After all, this is “not a soup kitchen,” Bon Jovi said at the opening. With its knife-sharp appearance, it doesn’t look like one. And the people behind it don’t want it to function as a dole for the down-and-out. The goal, they emphasized, is to make it a restaurant for all, no matter what’s in the customer’s wallet.

So amid the hubbub of the opening, redbankgreen isolated Peabody – who’s been a personal chef and consultant since closing his Bistro Zeeto in Atlantic Highlands a decade ago – for a few minutes to get his input. Here’s our quickie interview.

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WIN A BON JOVI GUITAR. GO NAKED. OR BOTH

Done3In an effort to raise awareness about detectable cancers, two Red Bank shops are organizing an evening of champagne, sweets and beautiful, bare skin.

Another organization is auctioning off a guitar donated by pop star Jon Bon Jovi to help feed and clothe those in need.

Well, one of those got your attention, right?

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WALK, RUN, BOOZE AND CRUISE FOR A CAUSE

dsc00013crop1Dave McKenny of Shrewsbury in the wooden cab of his 1910 Ford Model T — a fabulous flivver scheduled to roll into the Middletown Lions Club Auto Show and Motorcycle Meet this Saturday.

donegoodlogoAs any year-round resident of the greater Green can tell you, the weeks after the end of summer are merely the starting gun for the real season of outdoor events; a prime-time panorama of runs, walks, bike tours, golf outings, race meets and other recreational activities — most if not all of them dedicated to a Done Good cause.

Even with the first bracing breezes off the local waterways, there’s still plenty going on under the skies of October country this weekend — and it begins tonight, with a simple stroll about town designed “to promote community wellness and safety.” A followup to a recent Talk About Red Bank public forum — organized in the wake of an August 8 altercation that left borough resident Larry Yarbrough dead of multiple stab wounds — the Community Unity Walk commences with a 6pm “meet and greet” inside Calvary Baptist Church at Bridge Avenue and River Street, after which representatives of co-sponsors Pilgrim Baptist Church, Count the Children Movement, Greater Red Bank NAACP, Iglesia La Mano De Dios, Nation of Islam of the Shore Area, Calvary Baptist Church and the PBC Men-of-Valor Street Walkers invite church and civic groups or individual citizens to join them on the streets of Red Bank. Additional info on tonight’s tour of positive reinforcement can be had by calling Pastor Terrence K. Porter at (732) 747-2348.

There’s more beneath October’s do-good moon, from a Fall Festival in Rumson and a charity Softball Tournament in Little Silver, to a songwriting contest in Fair Haven, a fundraiser Car Show in Middletown, and a slightly guignol-ish Blood Drive where the Banks run Red.

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ELKS ON HOGS, PLAYING POKER

Done3Attention motorcyclists: If you’re a rider who’s interested in supporting military veterans — or if you’ve ever wondered how to maintain your best poker face while riding into a strong headwind — the morning and afternoon of Sunday, August 28 may reveal the answers. [UPDATE: Event rescheduled for Saturday, September 3, because of Tropical Storm Irene]

That’s when Red Bank Elks Lodge #233 joins with some of its brother lodges in Long Branch, Jamesburg and Old Bridge for a fundraising Poker Run.

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TWO HOUSES DONATED TO LUNCH BREAK

housesThe two properties adjoining Lunch Break, at right above, will be used to provide social services and clothing to the needy, if plans are approved. (Click to enlarge)

clothing

Space is tight at Lunch Break, the Red Bank soup kitchen.

Because of soaring demand for hot meals and canned goods, the need for pantry space has soared, too. Volunteers handling administrative duties share dining tables with clients who come for the meals. Every Saturday, bundles of clothing stored in the basement of the 25-year-old facility named for co-founder Norma Todd must be carted upstairs, out through a parking lot and back into the ground-floor dining room for distribution to clients in need.  When winter approaches, executive director Gwen Love has to clear out of her cramped office so clients can get flu shots in private.

The space shortage is more than just an inconvenience. It impinges on Lunch Break’s mission, says Love: to deliver services to those in need with a measure of dignity and respect.

So the recent donation of two houses adjoining Lunch Break’s home at 121 on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, just as the organization was about to embark on a search for additional space, was something of a “miracle,” says Love.

“Every now and then, it rains down blessings,” she tells redbankgreen.

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SIDEWALK AND YARD DEALS IN LITTLE SILVER

ls-sidewalk-saleIt’s sale central in Little Silver later this week. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Noticing her neighbors in Fair Haven and Red Bank were finding success with bargain-based weekends, Lori Saybolt decided it was time for business and home owners in Little Silver to unify and get in on the action.

“Other towns have done it and I thought it’d be a great thing to model,” said Saybolt, who helps run the non-profit gift shop The Woman’s Exchange on Church Street  and is president of the borough’s business association. “It just creates a much more of a community experience, so we’re hoping to see a lot more people coming into town.”

Rather than having  the usual sidewalk and yard sales scattered on the calendar, Saybolt went to work pulling them all together for what’s to be the first borough-wide sale, a three-day affair chock full of deals and one ‘Done Good‘ cause. Read More »

BETTER MAKE MINE A TRIPLE

alexs-lemonadeThe 10-year-old Lizzote triplets of Rumson — Michael, Thomas & John, behind the table – set up a lemonade stand Sunday not to add to their piggy banks but for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a charity that supports childhood cancer research. Joined by neighbors, the trio raised close to $200 through lemonade, candy and cookie sales at their Forrest Avenue home. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

MIDDLETOWN TEENS PAY IT FORWARD

bffCousins Mike Ruane and Erika Rech are gearing up for a round of heavy fundraising for Breast Friends Forever, the non-profit they created as high school freshmen. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

donegoodlogoOctober, 2006 was the start of a rough stretch for the families of Mike Ruane and Erika Rech of Middletown.

Rech’s mother was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer. Six months later, two more women in the family were diagnosed with the disease.

“We were surrounded by chemo and radiation,” Rech said.

In response, the two raised $1,000 in a local Relay For Life fundraiser, but wanted to do more. So they did some research and a lot of legwork and, by 2007, were founders of a non-profit, Breast Friends Forever.

Perhaps even harder to fathom than the odds of three family members being diagnosed with breast cancer in such a short timeframe: Rech and Ruane were both only 15 years old when they founded the non-profit.

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DONE GOOD: ALL THIS AND BROWNIE MOO

brownie-mooOrphaned street dog (turned guest of honor) Brownie Moo joins Project Animal Worldwide in welcoming you to a Doggie Date Island Style night this Friday, at D’Jeet? in The Grove. (Photo by Kim Levin)

Done2The attire ranges from black tie and tails to, well, tails — and admission ranges from a raising of the auction paddle, to simply raising your paw and volunteering. This week’s DONE GOOD roundup presents a typically eclectic smorgasbord of ways in which to help, and have a Done Good Time doing it.

For Alan Fisher of A.H. Fisher Diamonds — a native Red Banker who’s “enjoyed watching the fireworks for over 50 years” — doing a decent for the community can mean plastering his Broad Street storefront with signage that decrees a Cash for Gold (and silver, platinum, diamonds) event, proceeds from which will be donated to the presentation of this year’s Kaboomfest Fireworks on the Navesink event. As Fisher points out, the three-day extravaganza (scheduled for July 1-3) utilizes no taxpayer money, and has relied upon ever more innovative fundraising vehicles in an era when event costs have skyrocketed in sync with the fest’s centerpiece display. Fisher’s cash-on-spot KaBoom KaChing runs from this Friday, June 10 through July 9 — just in time for the KaMittee to get busy planning next year’s skysplash.

There’s more Done Good under the June moon, and it’s on view with the flip of a paperless page.

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DONE GOOD: WALK, RUN, PUTT, CUT ‘N STRUT

relayforlife2009It’s Friday night lights as Relay for Life returns to RBR this weekend. (File photo. Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogoCancer, as they say, never sleeps — and if you’re among the many thousands of people who’ve spent sleepless nights out of concern for a loved one who’s battling cancer, the American Cancer Society has a constructive, even celebratory, way to “walk the walk” — even in those darkest-before-the-dawn hours.

On Friday evening, May 20, the first of two local events in the ACS Relay for Life campaign commences on the outdoor track at Red Bank Regional High School, when close to 600 fundraising volunteers will gather into teams to run, walk and “celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.” The up-all-night benefit takes place under the lights between the hours of 5 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday — and there’s still time to register, sponsor or participate in the event, by taking it right here.

Check here as well for info about the June 17 Relay for Life event at Mater Dei High School in Middletown — and turn the pixelated page for more Done Good doings in the days and nights to come.

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DONE GOOD: HOP, BOP, BIKE, SWIM ‘N CRAWL

womans-clubThe Womans Club of Red Bank will host a “no junk” flea market on Sunday to raise funds for its weekly jazz shows. (Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogoThe name Fair Trade Town Crawl suggests that they’ve slowed things down a bit, coming off last year’s Shop Hop. But when the Fair Trade Red Bank organization celebrates World Fair Trade Day this Saturday, May 14, it’ll hit the ground running with new products, new participating merchants, and new shopping incentives centered around the retail reveille call of “Fair Trade Your Breakfast.”

From 11a to 4p, a group of downtown business that includes returning FT’ers  Ten Thousand Villages (scene of a breakfast pastry bake-off), soapmarket (where customers can make their own own sugar scrub from fair trade products) and No Joe’s (spotlighting a fair trade coffee of the day) will join with newcomers The Cheese Cave (hosting a coffee cupping demonstration), P.S. Poppyseeds and Good Karma Cafe for an afternoon of discounted merchandise, raffle prizes and other activities. Fair trade food products from vendors like Papa Ganache and The Cinnamon Snail can also be purchased at Red Ginger Home and Yummy Yummy Good Stuff @ Funk & Standard.

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BILLY GETS HIS EVENING, FOR M’TOWN ARTS

billy_016Playwright Billy Van Zandt is in the hot seat for an April 30 fundraiser for the Middletown Cultural and Arts Center.

By TOM CHESEK

No, Billy Van Zandt — to quote the late great Red Buttons and his signature shtick on countless Dean Martin roasts — “never got a dinner.” But on the night of Saturday, April 30, he’ll be getting his very own Evening.

Unlike other Monmouth County folks who went Hollywood in a big way, the comic playwright, producer and performer has, with his longtime collaborator Jane Milmore, maintained a pretty dynamic profile on the area’s artscape — particularly over at the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College, where the Van Zandt-Milmore tagteam has taught, established a scholarship and regularly premiered such new works for the stage as You’ve Got Hate Mail, currently enjoying a hit Off Broadway run at The Triad in Manhattan.

As one half of a bicoastal stage/screen writing partnership, the half brother of Steve Van Zandt spends about half his time here on the greater Red Bank Green — often with his sons and his better half, actress and author Adrienne Barbeau. None of which is to suggest that Billy Van Zandt ever does anything halfway, however.

Scheduled for 7:30p on April 30, An Evening with Billy Van Zandt (it even rhymes with An Evening with Cary Grant) presents the 1975 graduate of the old split-session Middletown High School in an “up close and personal” forum, in which he’s expected to offer advice to aspiring actors and writers — and to share some pretty priceless stories from his travels as a young actor in major motion pictures, and an Emmy nominated writer-producer for sitcoms both legendary (Newhart) and look-it-up (Bless This House).

Moderated by actor Jeff Babey (who, as a member in good standing of the Van Zandt-Milmore stock company, is similarly not known to do things in moderation), it’s a circus that manages to involve everyone from Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, and Tom Cruise, to Wiliam Shatner, the Wayans Brothers and Andrew Dice Clay — and that’s just for appetizers. It’s also a benefit for the educational programs of the Middletown Township Cultural & Arts Council, hosted at their spacious (and criminally under-utilized) Middletown Arts Center, located just seconds from Red Bank and steps from the township’s NJ Transit train platform. The redbankgreen Drama Desk met up with BVZ at the Broadway Diner recently, to kvetch and ketchup on current events.

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BON JOVI FINDS NEW KITCHEN SPACE IN RB

soul-kitchenPlans for Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen will keep the bay doors for now. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen has found itself a new home in Red Bank. It just needs a thumbs-up from the borough to fire up the grill.

The mega-star and super-philanthropic Middletown resident’s non-profit, the JBJ Soul Foundation, has filed plans with the borough’s planning and zoning office to move into a former auto repair shop on Monmouth Street, just west of the train tracks.

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RIVERVIEW NETS ANOTHER $1M FROM DONORS

RiverviewmedctrThe hospital has raised $6 million of its $15 million capital campaign from two Middletown couples. (File photo. Click to enlarge)

Little more than a week after disclosing it had received a $5 million donation toward a planned $15 million revamping of its operating rooms, Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center announced Monday that another $1 million contribution had come in.

The donation, by George and Vita Kolber, of the Locust section of Middletown, will go toward the construction of a new 22,000-square foot “center for surgical excellence” within the exisiting footprint of the Red Bank hospital, officials said.

A $5 million donation by Kolber neighbors Bob & Joan Rechnitz, founders of the Two River Theater Company, is to be used for the same purpose.

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A DOGGONE GOOD MONTH

jax1“Jax” the Rescue Dog is on tour to local schools this month in a series of speaking/barking engagements for the Purr’n Pooch Foundation. (Photo by Maryann Small)

donegoodlogoThe causes range from humanitarian aid for the countless lives affected by the recent disasters in Japan — to the rescue of a single dog or cat in need of a home. The funds raised can support the good works of our area’s charitable, cultural and educational entities — and the means of “Done Good” support can be as simple as a trip to the library, store or hair salon.

When last we looked in on Small Factory Productions in the paperless pages of redbankgreen, the kid-centric animation studio in Fair Haven (located, in a bit of kartoon-land kismet, at the Acme shopping plaza) had just received an Emmy nomination for its Brooklyn-based public access TV show. This month, Chris Dudick and company have teamed with Monmouth County’s own  Purr’n Pooch Foundation in an endeavor designed to teach young children about the humane treatment of animals.

From now through April 14, Monmouth County kids ages 5 to 10 are invited to submit their “creative, original stories and/or drawings” about their favorite animal friend to the Tails of Love Contest — and on April 15th, a panel of judges will select eight contest winners, each of whom will receive the chance to create an original animated short film based on their entry. Each winner will also get a DVD copy of the film and appear as special guests during a special movie premiere event at the Purr’n Pooch Foundation’s upcoming “Paws for a Cause Day” at Pier Village in Long Branch (date to be announced).

Take it here for details on how to enter the Tails of Love contest — and read more for an April’s worth of Done Good doings.

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THEATER FOUNDERS GIVE RIVERVIEW $5M

rechnitzes-032611Bob Rechnitz, right, with wife Joan and Two River Theater board member Paul Kaylor at Saturday night’s opening of ‘Candida.’ (Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogo rightA planned $15 million revamping of the operating rooms at Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center has gotten a big boost from a Middletown couple.

Joan and Bob Rechnitz, founders of the nonprofit Two River Theater Company, have donated $5 million to the effort, the hospital announced Monday morning.

Riverview officials called it one of the largest single gifts in the hospital’s history, and said a portion of the funds would be used to construct a conference and educational center designed to attract “superior surgeons with niche specialties” to lectures and symposiums.

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BASEBALL, SOFTBALL RETURNING TO RBMS

dan-campbellDan Campbell, a member of the Red Bank Middle School Athletics Foundation, says spring sports will go on, but financial support is needed. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Despite statewide funding cuts that translated to the scrapping of all athletics last year at Red Bank Middle School, sports will, as promised, return to Red Bank.

The Red Bank Middle School Athletics Foundation, which started in November with a small group of parents, announced last week that spring baseball and softball are back on the roster.

And with a little in-kind support from the school district, the group is bringing the spring season back without a dime of taxpayer money, member Dan Campbell said.

“I don’t think I can find words to really express the work this foundation has done to support the sports,” Superintendent Laura Morana said. “I have a lot of admiration and appreciation for the work that they’re doing.”

It hasn’t been an easy task, and will continue to be a challenge, Campbell said.

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ROUNDING UP WOMEN TO HELP GIRLS

nicole-corre-030811Go-getter Nicole Corre pauses for a moment on Broad Street in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogoNicole Corre, an inveterate helper-outer, needs some help.

Somewhere between finishing up a master’s in public policy at Rutgers, working full-time as a labor trends researcher and training for the Georgia Marathon this weekend — the first of two she plans to run this year — the Red Banker is trying to get a charity rolling.

Hey, even Type A personalities can’t do it all themselves.

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