RED BANK: AFFORDABLE GIFTS AND GOODIES

What, she doesn’t have a wine purse? We can fix that. Read on. (Photos by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By REBECCA DESFOSSE

Unsure of what gifts to buy this holiday season? Don’t fret. redbankgreen has been window-shopping downtown Red Bank in search of the perfect gift ideas for everyone on your list.

For example: your fashion-forward wine aficionado? Help her arrive at her next BYOB in style. At Red Ginger Home at 48 Broad Street, the wine purse shown above sells for $39 and includes a corkscrew for on-the-go bottle opening action.

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A ‘NATIVITY’ REBORN AS A LOCAL TRADITION

The Dunbar Repertory production of BLACK NATIVITY returns to the Count Basie Theatre on Friday.

In an interview that appeared here a little over a year ago, Brookdale Community College faculty member Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. told the redbankgreen Drama Desk that “no matter what I’ve been working on, whether it was the works of August Wilson or the Juneteenth festival, the number one thing that people ask me about is Black Nativity.”

“They’d tell me ‘the show has been such a blessing to us,’ and they all want to know when we’re doing it again.”

On December 30, 2010 — following a hiatus of some six years — the stage director and founder of Monmouth County based Dunbar Repertory Company revived his popular production of the theatrical presentation that combines the Gospel of St. Luke with the poetry of the late Langston Hughes and a custom-collected set of folk spirituals and hymns, bringing it to the boards of the Count Basie Theatre for the first time.

It’s a holiday offering that was designed to take its place among the scores of concerts, plays, ballets and benefits that have staked a traditional spot on the Count’s schedule each December — even if, for a moment there, it looked to be a Christmas miracle that was in danger of not coming to pass.

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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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HOLIDAY EXPRESS TO USHER IN THE SEASON

holiday-express-2010-2Scenes from the 2010 Holiday Express concert. (Click to enlarge)

holiday-express-2010-1The newborn 2011 holiday season moves outdoors with a bang of a snare drum and a blast of white light on Broad Street in Red Bank Friday night.

That’s right, it’s time for the 18th annual Holiday Express concert, complete with a bustling Santa parade, a sudden toss of sparkle into the roadside trees and familiar, feel-good seasonal tunes by Tim McLoone and his stage-sprawling band of musicmakers.

And it all kicks off a season of Gingerbread Walks, Horse & Carriage Rides, Holiday Harmonies on the streets and more, including a new, movable feast sponsored by the town’s restaurants called Holiday Flavour.

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CHRISTMAS TREE STAYING PUT

dub-tree-2008A hasty push to move Red Bank’s traditional Christmas tree to Riverside Gardens Park for the coming holiday season failed Thursday night as town officials balked over questions about proper review.

Gripes from the public led downtown promoter Red Bank RiverCenter to ask the borough council for permission to relocate the tree – shown at right being removed after the 2007 season – which has been displayed for years in the Monmouth Street courtyard of the Dublin House, said executive director Nancy Adams.

“We’re getting complaints every year from residents to move it someplace that, frankly, is not a bar,” she said. “We want to make the residents happy.”

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DPU HEAD: SNOW WAS ‘NOT PLOWABLE’

In an interview, Red Bank public utilities director Gary Watson and supervisor Bob Holiday discuss the challenges of the December 26-27 blizzard. Below, a jagged glacier of snow dumped by municipal haulers at the Navesink end of Maple Avenue. (Click to enlarge)

glacierA fast-falling, heavy snow, stranded cars and eager-to-dig-out residents combined to make last week’s blizzard a tough clean-up challenge, says the man in charge of Red Bank’s effort.

“This was a significant storm,” public utilities director Gary Watson tells redbankgeen in the video interview above. “You can’t compare this with other storms.”

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STELLA GRANDE

stellaStella, a golden retriever “from New Hampshire,” her owner notes, rests her chin on a snowbank outside the Starbucks on Broad Street in Red Bank Thursday morning. (Click to enlarge)

AFTER THE STORM IN FAIR HAVEN & RUMSON

As the wind and snow relented Monday morning, plows, shovels and snowblowers got heavy use in Fair Haven and Rumson.

redbankgreen‘s Dustin Racioppi trudged through the streets to snap shots of residents digging out from the season’s first major storm.

(To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.)

AND NOW, WE DIG OUT

shovelerReady for battle, a man armed with a shovel braved the white-out conditions on Branch Avenue in Red Bank Sunday afternoon. (Click to enlarge)

A blizzard that prompted a declaration of a state of emergency left a good two feet of snow in the Red Bank area Sunday and prompted a near-complete shutdown of schools, businesses and government operations on Monday.

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BROTHERS TAKE TOP HOME-DECORATING SWAG

14-catherine First place: 14 Catherine Street, home of Patrick Hussey & Family. (Click to enlarge)

Let the maple syrup flow!

The winners of Red Bank’s annual Holiday Home Decorating Contest have been selected, with winning households taking home half-gallon jugs of maple syrup made in Vermont by Jules Prown, father of event co-sponsor David Prown of Prown’s Home Improvements.

And this year, the top two winners are brothers who own homes on the West Side.

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CAROLING FOR COATS

dscf3058About a dozen Rumson kids took to the streets with candles and Santa chapeaux Monday night, singing Christmas carols to residents in exchange for winter coats. It’s an annual tradition in town, and all jackets collected are donated to Lunch Break in Red Bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

A YARDFUL OF HOLIDAY SPIRIT

xmas-lights1The holiday decorating at 77 Shrewsbury Avenue isn’t done yet. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

There’s no shortage of Christmas spirit at Natividad Oliveras’s Red Bank home. Just a shortage of real estate.

If you’ve seen her Shrewsbury Avenue residence, you understand.

The front yard is a tightly packed tableau of holiday cheer, with candy canes hanging from her fence and an array of biblical characters, snowmen, Santa Clauses, reindeer and toy soldiers staked in just about every available patch of grass she owns.

“We’re not even done yet,” Oliveras said.

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FREE HOLIDAY PARKING TAKES EFFECT

rb-meterRed Bank has waived fees for parking in municipal lots through December 26, as per a request from RiverCenter, and the traditional moratorium went into effect Friday afternoon. Let the shopping begin! (Click to enlarge)

ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, PLUG IN

holiday-dec-09Two of last year’s winners: the Philips residence on Reckless Place and the Lauterwasser residence on East Westside Avenue. (Click to enlarge)

OK, lovers of electric light: your season is officially here. It’s time for Red Bank’s annual Holiday Home Decorating Contest.

We’re talking tons of twinkle. We’re talking inflatable, ground-lit Santas. We’re talking wattage.

Oh, and there’s Vermont maple syrup, not to mention bragging rights, at stake.

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RED ‘N GREEN AND FESTIVE ALL OVER

xmasconcertsSanta Basie: Returning to the stage for Christmas are (clockwise from top left) Tim McLoone and Holiday Express; Nancy Scharff; Glen Burtnik, and Mark Shapiro with the Monmouth Civic Chorus.

It’s official: with a ceremonial flip of the switch last Friday night — and a weathery weekend of holiday-themed activities immediately following — Red Bank once again took the local lead in calling another Season of Lights to luminous life.

With December bringing up the calendar caboose, the borough merely picks up steam, offering up a full complement of Christmas and Chanukah events and activities from now right on up to the doorstep of New Year’s Eve.

Continuing every Saturday through December 18 are the outdoor jinglebell jukebox known as Holiday Harmonies and the clip-clop-and-shop of the Red Bank Horse and Carriage Rides. The Galleria offers Pictures with Santa photo ops each weekend through December 19, and the annual Gingerbread Walk promotion continues at participating borough businesses through December 26.

You can find out more about these ongoing offerings from Red Bank RiverCenter — and continue reading to unwrap our roundup package of holiday concerts, lighting ceremonies, fundraisers, stage shows and other events, in and around the greater Red Bank green.

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GOT AN EXTRA TREE LYING AROUND?

tree-litYes, folks, it’s that time of year. The book is closed on Halloween. Jim Bruno’s crew from Powerhouse Signworks has started stringing lights in trees downtown. And the event planners at Red Bank RiverCenter are sniffing around for a tree.

No, not one of Bruno’s trees. This one needs to be 20- to 25-feet tall, evergreen, full-bodied and ready to give its life for the joy of the multitudes expected to jam Monmouth and Broad Streets on Friday, November 26.

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ST. NICK MAKES AN EARLY ARRIVAL

rb-santaRed Bank Patrolman Mike Zadlock, er, Santa Claus, made a visit to the Jackson house Monday night to drop off toys as part of the police department’s toy drive. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

He ditched the reindeer and sleigh for a convoy of lights-flashing cruisers. And instead of wiggling down the chimney in the middle of the night, he simply knocked on doors just after dark.

Nevertheless, Santa Claus did what Santa Claus does best when he made an early visit to some select Red Bank families Monday when he showed up with a sack of toys and other gifts with his pals from the borough police department in the annual Policemen’s Benevolent Association toy drive.

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A BIT OF FROSTY ON THE WINDOW

harry-scanlonDressed-for-the-weather sign painter Harry Scanlon of Fair Haven dresses up the windows at the New Corner Restaurant in Red Bank on Thursday. (Click to enlarge)

Whoa! Temperatures in the twenties! It’s beginning to feel a lot like Hanukkah (or, if you prefer, Chanukah)— which begins at sundown tonight.

Temps fell below 30 this morning, and will do so overnight tonight and Saturday night. Daytime temperatures will get just above freezing today and hover in the mid-30s tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.

Here’s the full seven-day forecast for our area:

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