red bank translator program juan sardoBorough resident Karla Ortega, left, translated remarks by Lieutenant Juan Sardo into Spanish as Councilwoman Kate Triggiano, right, looked on at last week’s council meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


hot topic red bank njIn what may be a first in New Jersey, Red Bank police will be able to draw on a team of local volunteers to help them bridge language divides in dealing with the public.

A new program championed by first-term Councilwoman Kate Triggiano will make volunteer interpreters available to help police in their normal duties as well as at community events, she said.

Read More »


brenda codallos, itzel perez, michele alcaldeImmigrant advocates Brenda Codallos, left, and Itzel Perez listen as attorney Michele Alcalde speaks at RBR Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


hot topic red bank njThe political conflicts that rage over immigration will eventually be settled by today’s young people, who overwhelmingly believe immigrants are good for America, a guest speaker at Red Bank Regional High said Thursday.

Until then, however, the fears of immigration opponents must be met with data that demonstrates the economic benefits of immigration, he and others said.

Read More »


Dance majors from the RBR Visual and Performing Arts Academy onstage at the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.  Monica Urena, classe of 2014, below, was the keynote speaker. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Red Bank Regional High School (RBR) welcomed its students to its fifth Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.  Principal Risa Clay stated in English (with RBR junior Esperanza Minyety translating in Spanish), “Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community. We are proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and recognize the achievements of a culture that is prominently represented in our school and community.”

Read More »


Award-winning British poet Caroline Smith (at far right in photo) made Red Bank Regional a special stop on her book tour for “The Immigration Handbook.”  She was invited to the school by RBR alumnus Rik van Hemmen (at left), and joined for the occasion by students Bella Scheider (Union Beech), Jack Davis (Little Silver), and Tamia Waddy (Red Bank).

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

At its September 27 board meeting, the  Award-winning British Poet Caroline Smith came to the United States recently on a tour to promote her latest work The Immigration Handbook — and along the way, she did a dear friend a favor and came to talk to his alma mater, Red Bank Regional High School.

RBR alumnus Rik van Hemmen told the assembled students, which included Creative Writing, International Baccalaureate and English AP classes as well as English Language Learners, of his own experiences coming to this school and country as an immigrant back in the 1970s. Read More »


Brad Chavero of Red Bank, a student at RBR’s Academy of Engineering, stands in front of Harvard University, where he was able to attend a very competitive camp for advanced math students this summer. He also spent a month at the Rutgers’ campus for the Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

While the American Dream may seem a futile quest for some today, first generation American Brad Chavero, a top student and member of the Academy of Engineering at Red Bank Regional High School, is determined to take advantage of every opportunity presented to him to succeed.

This summer, Brad was able to attend not just one, but two very prestigious programs to further his educational experiences. In July, Brad was selected as one of only 72 students in New Jersey to attend the Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology at Rutgers at B.E.S.T. (Busch, Engineering, Science and Technology) Hall. No sooner had Brad returned home from his Rutgers’ camp than he and his father set out the next day to attend a second two-week camp for advanced math students — this one on the Cambridge, MA campus of Harvard University.

Read More »


rumson st pat 031316 40rumson st pat 031316 34Bedecked in silly hats and shamrocks, hundreds of residents of the Greater Red Bank Green lined the route of the fourth annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Rumson Sunday. We’ve got dozens of photos, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Read More »


ScholarshipstudentsLeft to right: Monica Urena, Jocelyn Rojas, Mariela Reyes, Veronica Perez, Itzel Perez and Carlos Aparicio were among the Red Bank Regional students who were present at last year’s Latino Scholarship Fashion Show, and who benefitted from the fundraiser which greatly supplements their college tuition. Volunteers are sought to help run the 2016 show, which takes place on Sunday, February 21 at the Oyster Point Hotel.

“I have my Associates Degree in Psychology and Political Science because I love the community and want to help the people in it. None of this would have been possible without the Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship.” Brookdale graduate, Red Bank Regional High School (RBR) alumna and current New Jersey City University Undergraduate student, Itzel Perez.

“Immigrants come to this country to find their dream and to better themselves…. If not for these people, I don’t know where I would be.” Brookdale graduate and RBR alumnus Andres Perez 

“I benefited from this wonderful, wonderful opportunity, and thank you for making my academic journey possible.” RBR alumnus, Brookdale graduate and current New Jersey City University undergraduate Carlos Aparicio.

These are three of dozens of grateful Red Bank Regional High School immigrant students who realized their dream of attending college, only because of the generous scholarship provided by the Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship for over a decade. One of the main events that support the fund is the Andrew Kroon Memorial Fashion Show, which takes place on Sunday, February 21, 2016, at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank. It features fabulous gift baskets, a 50-50 raffle, an accessories boutique and local shop fashions modeled by RBR students.

Read More »


MulticulturalstudetnsStudents and staff who produced and performed in the Hispanic Heritage program at Red Bank Regional High School included, back row, left to right:  Guadalupe Rodriguez, Brandon Trani, Guadalupe Luna, Mizani DelValle, Mya Nunnally, Multi Cultural Club Co- Advisor Odilia Lligui. Front row, left to right:  RBR Principal Risa Clay, Tyler Brunson, Emily Lugos, Skyler (Kyle) Eber, Yaritza Ortega. Not pictured is Multi-Cultural Club Advisor Karina Tedeschi.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Every October, the Red Bank Regional High School community looks forward to its multi-cultural club’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage. The school recognizes the many countries that compose the Hispanic American experience for both their uniqueness and rich culture, which is also commemorated with performances by the school’s Visual and Performing Arts students.

This year, RBR senior Guadalupe Luna introduced the event in Spanish (translated into English by Principal Risa Clay), stating, “Most Hispanic and Latinos share one significant item, a common passion for food.  To us food represents more than a simple dish. It represents family, sharing and love.”

Read More »

ON THE GREEN: HOW WE LOOK FROM ABOVE census map 101615A new interactive map developed by, the website of the Star-Ledger, enables users to zoom down to nearly the street level to show where every one of New Jersey’s more than 8.9 million residents lives, as well as the race and ethnicity of each, according to the 2010 Census.

The map doesn’t pinpoint the exact address of every resident: that would be creepy, wrote reporter Stephen Stirling. Instead, developers at NJ Advance Media “created a dot for each person of each race within each Census block, and scattered them randomly throughout their representative geography,” he said. The result, said Stirling, “is the most detailed look at race in New Jersey possible with information available today.”

The effect is highly detailed image that shows while the state is the most diverse in the nation, the Greater Red Bank Green is a near monoculture of whites (represented by blue dots) outside Red Bank’s West Side, which is home to dense concentrations of Hispanic and African-American residents. And even those two groups are somewhat segregated, the data suggests. (Screen grab from


030815 rumson st pats parade38030815 rumson st pats parade2For their third annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Rumsonians put on a display of kelly green and Hibernian spirit Sunday. A plethora of men in kilts, and a few kilted women, were joined by the young and old marchers and spectators – including a two-week-old – as well as horses, dogs and festive floats on a day of good cheer.

Check out our photos, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Read More »


Under crisp blue skies, Rumson rolled donned its finest greenery for the town’s second St. Patrick’s Day Parade Sunday.  (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)


Pinkolandia2Gaby (Andrea Morales) encounters an inhabitant of PINKOLANDIA in the play of the same name by Andrea Thome at Two River Theater.  (Photo by T.C. Erickson)


Just days after striking the set from Mr. Shakespeare’s fanciful Forest of Arden, the folks at Two River Theater Company got busy realizing another setting where occasional magic, romance, poetry and acts of heroism happen — a little place called Pinkolandia.

Don’t bother checking the map. Take it instead to the “black box” Marion Huber Theater inside Two River’s branded Bridge Avenue artspace, where a couple of young sisters named Gaby (Andrea Morales) and Beny (Maria Helan) have escaped with their family from their native Chile in the days of the Pinochet dictatorship to the cold and alien landscape of Reagan-era Wisconsin.

For playwright Andrea Thome — who grew up in Madison, WI with her Chilean mother and Costa Rican father — Pinkolandia represents a public triumph that’s interlaced with personal family history. An actor, author, dancer and sought-after translator, Thome has forged an eclectic resume of activity that sprawls from the West Coast (where she founded the Red Rocket Theater Company in San Francisco) to the East (where she serves as co-director of the “New York-based satire collective” known as Fulana). The Drama Desk at redbankgreen was pleased to speak with her during a “delightful, peaceful” week of rehearsals in Red Bank. Read on…

Read More »


With temperatures in the low 20s, several hundred parishoners of Red Bank’s St. Anthony of Padua Church celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe with their largest procession in years Thursday night. Starting at the pocket park at Shrewsbury Avenue and Doctors James Parker Boulevard, the procession headed east and then up Bridge Avenue, where marchers joined hundreds of other gathered in the parish auditorium for a Mass. (Photos by John T. Ward.)


Sandi Vilacoba demonstrates a core-strengthening device in her new Pilates studio at the Fair Haven Shopping Center. Below, Vilacoba and her grandmother, Ofelia Schwarz, who owns the center. (Photos by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)


A drive down River Road in Fair Haven, with its quaint mom-and-pop shops, can be something of an escape from mainstream consumerism.

But even the borough’s most prominent strip mall, the Fair Haven Shopping Center, anchored by an Acme supermarket, has a family story to it. The Schwarz family’s story.

After nearly a decade of teaching Pilates elsewhere in Monmouth County, Sandi Vilacoba opened her own classical Pilates studio, dubbed The Pilates Project, over Memorial Day weekend. With that, the third generation of her family cemented its ties to the center.

“My grandparents immigrated from Cuba to Fair Haven in 1960 with nothing and built a business from scratch,” said Vilacoba, of Belmar.

Read More »


The Danish flag and lighting fixtures add to the atmosphere of the industrial space in the Galleria. (Photos by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)


In the 105 years since its construction, the Galleria of Red Bank has had a revolving door for local business owners. Built as a uniform factory and presently  home to a spa, an “intuitive specialist,” a framing shop, restaurants and more, the brick building now touts a newly opened coffee shop.

However, to simply say ‘coffee shop’ is to the put the Danish Café in the same league as dime-a-dozen Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts shops.  Instead, husband-and-wife owners Claudi and Lone Kofod, above, are trying to expand American palates with a taste of Denmark’s delectable wienerbrød (pastries) and authentic frokost (lunch) dishes.

The Kofods are from the small island of Bornholm, population 42,000, where they were both born and raised. Married 27 years, they moved to the States three months ago on an investor visa to conquer the challenge of operating their own business in America.

Read More »


Juanito’s International Marqueta is the latest in a line of food-related businesses owner Juan Torres has created in town. Below, the store’s placeta-style checkout station. (Click to enlarge)


Leading a visitor through the aisles of his new supermarket on Red Bank’s West Side, Juan Torres wended his way past employees busily stocking shelves and freezers just hours before he unceremoniously opened the store to shoppers Tuesday.

Reminiscent of midsized neighborhood markets long ago displaced by supermarkets, Juanito’s International Marqueta features four short aisles and two longer aisles stocked with dry goods, many of them grouped together by nation of origin: Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and elsewhere, Torres said.

Likewise, along a wall of freezers, food is also grouped by nation of origin, including Salvadoran corn tamales known as pupusas.

The groupings, Torres said, were done to make shopping easier for Latino immigrants – as well as non-Hispanic shoppers – looking for beans, sardines and other products they used in their home countries, he said.

“People here take taxis to Long Branch to get ingredients,” he said. “Now, they can walk here.”

Read More »


Newly recruited general manager Ryan Timmons outside Soul Kitchen earlier this week. (Click to enlarge)


Three months after opening, Soul Kitchen, the pay-what-you-can-or-work-it-off restaurant on Red Bank’s West Side, is  progresssing toward its goal of feeding the haves and have-nots in equal numbers, new manager Ryan Timmons tells redbankgreen.

About 30 percent of the restaurant’s patrons pay with vouchers earned through volunteer work at Soul Kitchen or a growing roster of other non-profits, Timmons said. The goal is a 50-50 mix among diners, and “the voucher-to-payment ratio is going up,” he said.

Meanwhile, paying customers are being generous when settling up bills via the discreet donation envelopes that servers present to them at the end of their three-course dinners, he said. The suggested donation is $10, but “very few” customers leave just that amount, he said, and instead pay more to help subsidize meals for others.

Read More »


An Ocean County resident is facing drunken driving and other charges, as well as possible deportation, following a three-vehicle crash that seriously injured another man in Middletown Tuesday night, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Meanwhile, Robert H. Reimann, 54, of Atlantic Highlands, remains hospitalized at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Npetune, where he was flown by helicopter after being trapped in his car for an hour following the 6 p.m. collision on Navesink River Road, the Press reports.

Read More »


best-grocerySunny Sharma’s Leighton Avenue business, Best Deli & Food Market, was open Monday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

Federal immigration officials say Red Bank retailer Sunny Sharma remains in their custody and will be deported, but they’re mum on why — and so is his fiancé, who now appears to be running his Leighton Avenue grocery.

Sharma was arrested at his store as a fugitive last Thursday afternoon and  “will be removed from the country,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Harold Ort tells redbankgreen.

Agency privacy rules prohibit the disclosure of any additional information regarding Sharma’s whereabouts or the particulars of his case, Ort says. “Fugitive” can mean several things, including ignoring an immigration court order or illegal re-entry into the U.S., Ort says.

Sharma, who lived in Middletown, is a native of India.

Sharma’s business, Best Deli & Food Market, was open its usual hours on Monday, leaving some neighbors wondering what the scene Thursday was about, when Sharma was reportedly taken out of his store in handcuffs.

Read More »



Sunny Sharma, a onetime Red Bank liquor retailer who was stripped of his license for selling booze to minors, has been arrested on an alleged immigration violation, redbankgreen has learned.

Red Bank police confirmed that Sharma was taken into custody at his Leighton Avenue grocery store Thursday afternoon on a warrant by officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Police had no additional information. A spokesman for ICE could not immediately be reached for comment on the reason for the arrest and Sharma’s status.

A witness tells redbankgreen that Sharma was led out of his store in handcuffs.

Read More »


joeys-cruz2Police in Middletown say they have arrested an illegal immigrant from Honduras who used at least one juvenile to help him pull off a yearlong string of burglaries in that town and others.

Here’s the full text of a news release from Lieutenant Joe Capriotti:

The Middletown Township Police Department has arrested a Middlesex County man who was employing juveniles in a burglary ring that operated in Monmouth County, Union County and Somerset County.

Read More »


hot-topic6A report in today’s Star-Ledger says that Red Bank was among the New Jersey cities and towns that yielded up 46 suspected gang members to a federal sweep over the past two weeks.

The suspects include alleged members of violent gangs such as MS-13, Sureno 13, Gran Familia Mexicana and the Bloods, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement.

The names of only four suspects were released, but that information was not accompanied by the locations of their arrests or residence, nor were town-by-town numbers of suspects released.

ICE spokesman Harold Ort told the Sledger that most of the arrests took place in Asbury Park, Long Branch, Red Bank, Bound Brook and Union City, the paper reported.

Read More »