MIDDLETOWN: MAKING A MEAL OF A MOVIE

the-trip-to-italy-rob-brydon-steve-coogan1-600x337Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan star in THE TRIP TO ITALY, one of a smorgasbord of “food themed films” that screen for free during Mondays in April at Middletown Library. 

Whoever opined to the effect that there’s “no such thing as a free lunch” would do well to visit the Middletown Township Public Library here in April, where every Monday afternoon spotlights a different cinematic confection; centered around a foodie theme and served up absolutely free of charge. With all screenings beginning at 2:30 pm, it’s a celluloid smorgasbord that boasts some bold international flavors, some spicy scripting, and maybe just a little bit of scenery-chewing on the part of the actors.

The four-course matinee commences this Monday, April 6, with a showing the 2014 British dramedy The Trip to Italy. Steve Coogan (soon on display in the Showtime series Happyish) and Rob Brydon co-star in director Michael Winterbottom’s film as “themselves;” a pair of talkative friends who maintain an ongoing dialogue (on life, love and other weighty things) while competing for the viewer’s attention with some spectacular scenery and a spread of regional culinary delights. Edited into feature-length format from a 2014 BBC series, it’s a sequel to 2010’s The Trip, in which Rob and Steve similarly tour northern England — and it serves as an engaging appetizer, for the schedule that follows.

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MIDDLETOWN: PULLING FOR KIDS’ CHARITY

Guadano ReillyPat Guadagno and Steve Reilly are among the Shore-based musicians taking part in a first-ever Nashville Guitar Pull for charity this Saturday at Middletown Arts Center.

It’s called a Guitar Pull — a type of event that’s infinitely more pleasant than a hamstring pull, less sticky than a taffy pull — although it often draws from the same kind of audience that appreciates a first-rate tractor pull.

Defined as “a Southern tradition where a small group of musicians sit around and take turns playing songs on a guitar,” the loosely structured, stories-and-songs format has a city-slicker cousin in our regional Songwriters in the Round/ Songwriters by the Sea events. And Saturday, such an event pulls into the greater Red Bank Green when the Middletown Arts Center (MAC) hosts a first-ever Nashville Guitar Pull concert for a worthy cause.

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M’TOWN: HIGH SCHOOLERS ‘SPEAK THE SPEECH’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPress release from English-Speaking Union of Monmouth County

On February 28, a dozen high school students each took the stage of the Middletown Arts Center and, without scenery, costumes or props, brought William Shakespeare’s words to life. It was the 25th annual Shakespeare Competition for high school students, sponsored by the Monmouth County Branch of the English-Speaking Union, and the stakes were high.

Each of the contestants had practiced and prepared, each had studied and rehearsed, and all of them performed wonderfully. Despite the competition, the atmosphere among the students was mutually supportive.  Their audience included teachers, parents, and members of the ESU, as well as five theater professionals who served as expert judges.  Each student presented a sonnet and a short monologue.

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NAVESINK: MONMOUTH PLAYERS BESEECH THEE

AJ Melnick GodspellAJ Melnick heads a youthful cast as Jesus, as the Monmouth Players present their production of GODSPELL inside the Navesink Arts Center. (Photo courtesy of Monmouth Players)

The 2014-2015 season of shows from Monmouth Players continues apace at the Navesink Arts Center — the reborn and rebranded former Navesink Library at Monmouth and Sears Avenues in Middletown — with a busier-than-ever slate of entertainments that hasn’t let a little thing like a particularly rotten winter spoil its fun. When the figurative curtain went up this past weekend on the latest community production from the long-running troupe, veteran watchers of the Players were treated to something rare indeed: a musical.

Continuing through March 22, the Players production of Godspell matches the 1971 perennial from songsmith Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) with a cast of fresh faces — many of them brand new to the Navesink company that’s been in business since before its current executive producers (Lori and Paul Renick) made their own entrances on the world stage. Based on parables from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the show that birthed the hit “Day by Day” puts forth an age-of-Aquarius message of love and tolerance via an eclectic score that ranges from folk-infused pop to vintage vaudeville — and it’s a spotlight opportunity for one prominent member of the company who’s “happy to be joining a community comprised of such fanciful characters.”

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MIDDLETOWN: PARK SYSTEM DOCENTS WANTED

Press release from Monmouth County Parks System

The Monmouth County Park System has added another training session for prospective docent volunteers on Sunday, March 15.  In addition to the morning session held at Huber Woods Environmental Center in Locust from 11 am to 12:30 pm, an afternoon session will be held at Bayshore Waterfront Park Activity Center in Port Monmouth from 2 to 3:30 pm.

Both sessions will cover everything docent volunteers need to welcome visitors and answer questions. Prospective volunteers (age 21 or older) should attend the session held at the location where they are interested in volunteering. Volunteers are needed for half-day shifts on weekends at Huber Woods Environmental Center. Bayshore Waterfront Park Activity Center is looking for volunteers from 1 to 4 pm on Sundays, April through October.

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RED BANK, MIDDLETOWN: JOYFUL NOISES

BrandauMuenchDr. Ryan Brandau leads the Monmouth Civic Chorus in song, Sunday at Tower Hill Church — while pianist Julia Muench salutes her immigrant heritage in a free Monday evening concert at Middletown Library. 

Vibrant vocal music in Hebrew and Latin — and a musical history lesson accented with the German immigrant experience in America — are on tap in the days and nights to come, courtesy of some of the area’s premier performers.

Up at Tower Hill Church — aka First Presbyterian Church of Red Bank — Dr. Ryan Brandau and the assembled voices of The Monmouth Civic Chorus inaugurate their 2015 slate of public-welcome concerts with A Joyful Noise this Sunday.

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MIDDLETOWN: MOVIE MAYHEM MATINEE

Tom-Cruise-Edge-of-TomorrowBegin Again: The Tom Cruise sci-fi suspenser EDGE OF TOMORROW screens for free at Middletown Library, kicking off a month of Movie Monday matinees. 

With the “what-were-we-thinking” hiccup of the Academy Award season now a fast-fading memory, Middletown Township Public Library continues its ongoing series of free movie screenings with another month-long slate of recent feature film releases; another chance to catch up with both the multiplex blockbusters and the arthouse curios that slipped between the sprockets.

It’s been called “the best video game you’ll never be able to play;” a smash-up sci-fi epic that unspools like a “Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers” story pitch. Riding a recent wave of futurama action roles, Tom Cruise stars as an awkward and reluctant warrior whose bum luck in the heat of battle — he’s repeatedly killed in action, only to be time-looped back into the fray — finds him forever poised at the Edge of Tomorrow. Kick-ass mentor Emily Blunt molds Cruise into a fighting machine capable of taking on the alien nasties, and Doug Liman directs the 2014 thriller that screens in MTPL’s Community Room today, March 2 at 2:30 pm — with much more to come.

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RBR STUDENTS ‘BRING IT’ TO SENIOR AUDIENCE

bringitlarger_-_CopyPictured (left to right in back row), during their visit to Care One at King James, are Bring It Volunteer Student Traveling Performance Company members Pieter Lootsma, Little Silver; Bobbie Davis, Shrewsbury; Jillian Lamanno, Little Silver; Chase Hintelmann, Little Silver; Jose Rojas, Red Bank; (front row) Danielle Wolf,  Shrewsbury; Alex Sosa, Millstone; Kiera Lee, Bradley Beach; Kathryn Flynn, Little Silver; Ashley Houck, Red Bank; Katelyn Johnson, Little Silver, and Tess Hintelmann, Little Silver. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Chase Hintlemann had just begun his freshman year at Red Bank Regional High School as a Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) drama major, when he was also “moonlighting” on the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre, in a Phoenix Productions staging of Damn Yankees. It was during the “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Missouri” musical number on the show’s opening night, when he suddenly felt his knee give out.

The resulting injury kept this energetic athlete and performer homebound for a time and frustratingly bored. (“I had to sit in a knee bending machine for four hours a day”) — and it was during that period of extended convalescence that he began to think about starting a student volunteer traveling performance company, to bring entertainment to those who were similarly unable to leave their residences. As a VPA student, he knew a huge variety of gifted performers, all of them with talent to share — and a desire to Bring It.

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M’TOWN: INTIMATE CLASSICS, REVERENT JAZZ

JoelDeWittJohnGronertViolinist Joel DeWitt (left) presents a program of chamber duets at Middletown Library on Monday evening…while drummer John Gronert (right) is among the cats taking part in a February 19 jazz service at Lincroft Presbyterian.  

The post-Valentine days and evenings offer discerning music lovers a chance to get all intimate with their preferred sounds — be it a chamber recital at the bibliotheque, or the return of a rather unique public-invited Jazz Service at a local place of worship.

This coming Monday, February 16 sees the Community Room of the Middletown Township Public Library welcoming back an artist who’s frequently made himself at home in that cozy venue, for the latest in a series of MTPL-produced classical music offerings. Violinist Joel DeWitt teams with pianist Brian Gilmore, for a 7 pm session spotlighting masterful duets by Mozart, Debussy and Prokofiev. It’s an hour-long program, for which no advance registration is necessary (and admission is of course fabulously free).

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MIDDLETOWN: THESE MAGIC MOMENTS

billy brownBllly Brown joins the Duprees for an afternoon of classic doowop and soul at the Middletown Arts Center. (Photo by Marian Cicarele, courtesy of ClassicUrbanHarmony.net)

Valentine’s Day isn’t until next Saturday, but February 8 might be declared “Valentine’s Sunday” by virtue of it being the date for a special matinee concert at the Middletown Arts Center, one that puts an intriguingly local spin on some of the most romantic records of the 1960s and 70s.

Running from 2 to 4 pm, the concert stars a set of Garden State favorites with a multi-generational fanbase: Jersey City’s own Duprees (“My Own True Love,” “Have You Heard” and the sublime “You Belong to Me”) paired with a Jersey Shore guy whose smooth brand of vocal soul took him to the top of the pops, years before the Boss ever set his hungry heart on the Billboard charts.

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MIDDLETOWN: A ‘RABBIT’ RUN IN NAVESINK

Rabbit HoleDavid Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer winning drama RABBIT HOLE makes its local debut this weekend in a staging by the Middletown-based Monmouth Players.

rabbit hole logoAs the area’s longest continuously operating theatrical troupe — established over 60 years ago, in a time long before the arrival of professional companies like Two River Theater — the Monmouth Players made their mark as purveyors of comic specialties from the likes of Neil Simon, or lightweight mysteries from the typewriter of Agatha Christie and that ilk.

But while the Navesink-based company hasn’t exactly knocked the Doc (refer to their 2013-2014 “Season of Simon”), the players, under the stewardship of husband-wife team Paul and Lori Renick, continue to rethink the boundaries of what a small-town community playhouse can do.

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MIDDLETOWN: A FEB FILMFEST, FOR FREE

12yearsMichael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor appear in the Oscar-winning 12 YEARS A SLAVE, one of several recent films screening for free this month at Middletown Library.

While February is of course Black History Month, that shortest and some-say-cruelest of calendar pages also serves as a lead-in to the annual Academy Awards; a chance to catch up with some things you’ve missed, on the way to handicapping this year’s current field of (disappointingly white, to many observers) horses. When the ongoing series of free movie screenings continues apace at Middletown Township Public Library this week, it’ll inaugurate a worth-another-look slate of recently released features — a couple of them illuminative of the African American experience, with the rest of the stories drawn from precincts that range from South Asia and the Great White North, to just this side of the afterlife.

It all begins at 2:30 pm on Monday, February 2, when MTPL hosts a free showing of the historical drama that took home the Oscar for Best Picture in 2014 — 12 Years a Slave, director Steve McQueen’s adaptation of the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, a free black man kidnapped and pressed into servitude in antebellum Louisiana. Chiwetel Ejiofor offers a star turn as Northup in the harrowing and unflinching feature, with strong support from Lupita Nyong’o (AA for Best Supporting Actress), vividly villainous Michael Fassbender, and an array of actors that includes Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and American Horror Story‘s Sarah Paulson.

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MIDDLETOWN: CATCHING UP WITH 2014

jerseyboysmovieimageFrankie Valli meets Dirty Harry — when director Clint Eastwood’s cinema treatment of the Four Seasons musical bio JERSEY BOYS screens as part of a month of free 2014 releases at Middletown Library.

Remember 2014? Even if you’re the resolute type who actually meets your personal goals, and who wraps up The Year That Was with a neat little bow, there no doubt remain a number of tiny but torturously nagging regrets — chief among them “that movie you were meaning to go see.” Fortunately, for the latest monthly slate in their ongoing series of free movie screenings, Middletown Township Public Library presents a month of Mondays (and one Friday) designed to offer a chance to catch some last-year releases that may have slipped between the sprockets.

It begins this coming Monday, January 5, with a 2:30 pm showing of a biopic that boasts a special resonance for regionals: Jersey Boys, an adaptation of the Broadway jukebox-musical smash detailing the early career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Director Clint Eastwood (who, it must be recalled, acquitted himself well with the Charlie Parker jazzman bio Bird) works with a cast featuring Tony winner John Lloyd Young (originator of the Frankie role on Broadway) and Christopher Walken — as well as a slew of vintage Bob Gaudio/ Bob Crewe songs that include of course “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Rag Doll.” The January screening schedule continues from there, with some cinematic studies in art, commerce, cooking, passion, and romance with a decidedly mature shading.

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LINCROFT: ‘NIGHT VISITORS’ WELCOME

UUCMC Amahl and the Night VisitorsIt starts with the appearance of an unusually large star in the desert night sky — and for a young boy named Amahl, it heralds the appearance of three kings at his family’s humble home, seeking shelter for the night as they make their way to a place called Bethlehem.

First performed as a live TV special in 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors quickly took its rightful place among the Yuletide season’s best-loved musical masterworks — and continuing a local tradition, the contemporary opera will be staged at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County Meeting House on West Front Street this Saturday and Sunday, December 13 and 14.

Presented at 7 pm on Saturday, and encoring at 6 pm Sunday, the family-friendly favorite is the second in a four-part Performing Arts Series at UUCMC; directed by Elaine Held (with co-musical direction by Louise Chernosky), and starring not one but two young local actresses as Amahl: Tara Lieneck of Middletown (at right in photo) featured on December 13, and Clara Randel of Aberdeen (left) taking over the role on December 14.

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MIDDLETOWN: VERY MERRY MATINEES

Reginald-Owen-right-with-Leo-G-Carroll-as-Marley’s-Ghost-in-A-Christmas-Carol-1938Marley’s ghost rattles old Scrooge in the 1938 MGM treatment of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, one of several holiday-themed films screening for free this month of Mondays at Middletown Library.

The ongoing series of free movie screenings continues apace at Middletown Township Public Library here in December — with the holiday season setting the theme for the next several Monday afternoon offerings, as well as the debut of a New Film Fridays series in the week to come.

Showing at 2:30 pm this Monday, December 8 is the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, one of the screen’s first full-length treatments of the Charles Dickens chestnut. Produced by top Hollywood studio MGM — albeit with a second-string cast that featured character actor Reginald Owen in a rare starring turn as Ebenezer Scrooge — the film’s not without its charms, even if it creaks and groans in comparison with Alastair Sim’s nuanced 1951 turn in Scrooge. Then on Friday, December 12, the new series kicks off with the final(?) film of the late Robin Williams — A Merry Friggin Christmas, in which a father and grown-up son (Joel McHale of Community and The Soup) are forced to go on a desperate road-trip in an effort to salvage the holiday for their family of misfits. Released just last month, the black comedy screens at 2 pm — with more movie merriment around the corner.

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MIDDLETOWN: POETIC VOICES PLEASE

CoraGreenhillAcclaimed British poet Cora Greenhill visits the Middletown Library on Monday, December 1, in an event hosted by the Red Bank Writers Group.

As her official bio states, “She lives in the Peak District in middle England, and in the Greek Island of Crete. Her poetry is strongly influenced by these places as well as other parts of the world, such as Africa, where she has traveled.”

So what brings Cora Greenhill to the greater Green this week — specifically Middletown Township Public Library, where the British wordsmith makes an exceedingly rare Stateside appearance on Monday, December 1? As it turns out, she’s visiting family right here in Red Bank — and when The Red Bank Writers Group got wind of those plans, it became necessary to engineer this opportunity for the poet (whose most-visited themes include feminism, spirituality, the natural world and global cultures) to meet some of her American fans, make new friends, and sign some copies of her books.

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MIDDLETOWN: A SWIFT SUNDAY IN THE PARK

navesinkstartAnd they’re off: the leaf-laden trails of Middletown’s Bodman Park are the scene for the start of the Navesink Challenge, the 14th annual edition of which hits the ground running on Sunday, November 30. 

As outdoor activities go here in the greater Red Bank Green, it’s what you might call a late-season arrival. How late? Well, consider that pretty much every other open-air happening from this point comes equipped with funny sweaters, caroling kiddies, and complimentary cups of hot chocolate.

As a serious sporting event for local runners, however, the annual Navesink Challenge is a drop-everything occasion — that pursuit of the perfect gift for Aunt Hortense will have to wait. When the 13th edition of the late-autumn tradition hits the ground this Sunday, November 30, the day promises a great turnout, generous support, and funds raised for a great cause — in this case, the programs of the Middletown Youth Athletic Association.

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MIDDLETOWN: HOW TO MAKE A ‘DIAMOND’

MHSS playElias Kotsis and Jessica Fisher (center) are featured in the cast of Middletown High School South’s THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ, director Alexis Kozak’s own adaptation of the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

If comedy is as hard as they say it is, then satire (which the conventional wisdom says “is what closes on Saturday night”) is even harder — and a diamond, whether in the rough or on the résumé, is the hardest thing known to mankind.

When Middletown High School South theater arts teacher Alexis Kozak got down to selecting the school’s fall dramatic production for the 2014-2015 academic year, he bypassed the tried-and-true tropes of the community-stage canon — gambling in favor of a never-before-presented script, by a largely unknown scribe: Alexis Kozak.

With a Masters degree in playwriting — and a portfolio of original work that includes the full-length Zero Days Since the Last Miracle (produced last year by The Black Box, the Asbury Park-based arts collective on whose board he sits) — Kozak is hardly a dilettante dabbler. And his script, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, comes backed by the full faith and credit of one of the great American authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set in 1920s Montana, this adaptation of Fitzgerald’s “Jazz Age” novella follows innocent prep-school boy John T. Unger (Elias Kotsis) as he accompanies his ultra-rich friend Percy Washington home for the summer to his family chateau — where he discovers that the source of the family’s wealth is a secret worth dying for.

“I did see this as an opportunity to beat Broadway to the punch,” says Kozak about Diamond, which has just come into the public domain, (and is also being adapted as a Broadway musical, purportedly scheduled for opening later this year). “I have always loved Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby…so, in some ways, this is a love letter to him and his work.”

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MIDDLETOWN: A THREE-DAY TASTE OF ITALY

raguActor and playwright Frank Ingrasciotta performs his Off Broadway solo show BLOOD TYPE: RAGU at Middletown Arts Center on November 15 as part of a new series of Savor the Arts events.

It’s called Savor the Arts — “a series of culture-specific events that blend performances with culinary tastings, exhibits, workshops, armchair travel presentations and more” — and it’s a multi-sensory whirlwind that begins this weekend, when the Middletown Arts Center (MAC) invites the public to immerse itself in the culture of Italy (and, by extension, the Italian-American experience).

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MIDDLETOWN: CALLING ALL NATURE PHOTOGS

Deep Cut PhotoPress release from Monmouth County Parks System

Interested in nature photography? The Monmouth County Parks System is looking for entries for its upcoming photography exhibit,  The Residents of Deep Cut Gardens  and from now through November 21, professional and amateur photographers 18 years and older are invited to submit images for consideration into the show.

The exhibit will be open 10 am to 4 pm daily, January 4 through 31 at the Deep Cut Gardens Horticultural Center on Red Hill Road in Middletown. An opening reception is planned from 1 to 3 pm on Saturday, January 3. During this free event, the public is invited to view the exhibit, meet the photographers, and enjoy light refreshments.

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MIDDLETOWN: WHEELS AND WOODS

Woods HollowThe rollercoaster wooded trails and fields of the county’s Tatum Park are once more the setting for the annual Woods Hollow Bike Races, this Saturday morning.

It’s pretty much the last of the yearly outdoor recreational events before the turnback of the clocks — and while there’ll still be plenty of open-air public activities to come on the greater Green, chances are they’ll be enticing attendees with cups of hot chocolate from here on in.

Right now, with the local foliage season at its most colorful, there are few better leaf-spotting locales than the Monmouth County Parks Systems’ Tatum Park in Middletown — and no better excuse to get acquainted with Tatum than the Woods Hollow Classic Mountain Bike Race, the 19th annual edition of which takes to the rollercoaster wooded trails and open fields of the park this Saturday, November the First.

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MIDDLETOWN: APPETIZER FOR ARTS SERIES

raguActor and playwright Frank Ingrasciotta performs his Off Broadway solo show BLOOD TYPE: RAGU at Middletown Arts Center on November 15, as part of  a new series of Savor the Arts events.

Press release from Middletown Arts Center

Starting in November 2014, the Middletown Arts Center (MAC) will offer a unique way to enjoy artistic experiences from around the globe with Savor the Arts, a series of culture-specific events that blend performances with culinary tastings, exhibits, workshops, armchair travel presentations and more. Patrons will have the opportunity to enjoy engaging activities that bring a particular culture to life.

Each multi-sensory weekend will be a mini-cultural immersion meant to educate and entertain. The Savor the Arts series begins with a celebration of Italian culture from November 14-16. Events include armchair travel presentations on the Almafi Coast and Puglia, as well as culinary tastings, a Paint and Sip Workshop featuring an Italian scene, an exquisite presentation of Italian art and music, and the Off Broadway one-man production Blood Type: Ragu.

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MIDDLETOWN, SANDY HOOK: A GHOSTLY TRIO

FortHancockThe isolated, wind-whipped battlements of Fort Hancock are the setting for a moonlit tour of local lore and legend, (g)hosted by the American Littoral Society on October 30.

Laugh if you will at the tales of haunted places and half-buried secrets that form such a big part of our local cultural heritage. When the ghost stories have all been told, and attention spans wander back to the fast-paced, plugged-in Here and Now, that’s when the real fun begins — the walk outside in the dark; the uneasy trip back home, when sudden sounds encroach from all directions, and unidentifiable things skitter just off the edge of view.

The fun begins during daylight hours on Sunday, October 26, when Middletown Township Public Library welcomes the good people of the New Jersey Ghost Organization for a 2 pm reading that celebrates both the coming of Halloween and the Garden State’s “NJ350” birthday year. The Ghost Org guests will read from their latest book, Folklore of the New Jersey Shore, with signing copies available for perusal and purchase — and a set of “haunted artifacts” on display. Still, if the sworn-testimony tales of spectral apparitions and other unexplained phenomena fail to set your nerves on edge, stick around Middletown after dark — and take part in a nocturnal tour of one the greater Red Bank Green’s most history- and mystery-shrouded places.

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RED BANK AND THE GREEN: HOUSE ADVANTAGE

parker-homestead-2007The 17th-century Parker Homestead in Little Silver is just one of the historic homes on the greater Green taking center stage this weekend. The T. Thomas Fortune House, below, is another. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

rb fortune house 100614 1In a season when we’re all a bit more cognizant of old, dark houses, a birthday celebration designed to call attention to one of Red Bank’s most endangered historic structures — the T. Thomas Fortune House — kicks off a weekend that also offers some rare opportunities to step back in time.

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LINCROFT: THOMPSON’S TURN TO SHINE

Thompson ParkOne of the best kept not-so-secrets of Fall takes the spotlight on Sunday, when Thompson Park Day takes over the spacious park located just off Newman Springs Road.

Strut Your Mutt. Paint a pumpkin. Climb a wall. See a show — maybe even scare a crow.

When the family-friendly Fall festival known as Thompson Park Day returns to the Monmouth County Parks System’s home turf in Lincroft this Sunday, October 19, it will come with all the tried-and-true trappings of the annual recreational panorama — the wagon rides and the kids’ races, the animal shows and pottery demos, the puppet shows and sideshow entertainers, the skiing and canoeing, the food and craft vendors, and the Pie Eating Competition.

It also packs some extra surprises that are native to this event beneath the mellow October sun — the Diaper Derby and the Dash for Cash, the Make Your Own Scarecrow Contest and of course the 11th annual Strut Your Mutt Contest, in which dogs take center stage for the most popular Halloween costume contest on four legs.

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