An historic total eclipse of the sun — well, partial eclipse, in this part of the United States — drew summer vacationers and office workers alike out into cloying heat and humidity across the Greater Red Bank Green Monday.

On sidewalks in downtown Red Bank and the parking lot of the Monmouth County Library’s Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury, among other locales, they donned safety spectacles, craned their necks and oohed and ahhed throughout the slow-motion celestial event, the first coast-to-coast eclipse in America since 1918.

Check out our photos of the skywatchers below. (Photos by John T. Ward and Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

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monmouth-county-library-manalapanPress release from The League of Women Voters of Monmouth County

On Wednesday, October 26, The League of Women Voters of Monmouth County will sponsor a Candidates Forum for Monmouth County Freeholder, Sheriff, and Surrogate at 7 p.m. The event will take place at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters located at 125 Symmes Drive in Manalapan. The public is welcome to learn about the candidates and will have an opportunity to ask them questions. Light refreshments will be served.

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Troy Lewis copyIt’s a journey that begins in a little place called Saluda, Virginia (population 300), a road trip through physical and spiritual territory that’s limited only by our own storytelling abilities and available Gas Money.

In his book of that title, first-time author Troy Lewis delivers what his promo material calls “a heartwarming, honest narrative that shows how everyday people with whom we come in contact on a daily or occasional basis shape our lives forever.”

And on Saturday, Lewis makes his next stop on that journey with a visit to the the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury. Read More »


rbpl-garden-siteTrustees of the library say local taxpayers would still have to foot the cost of the borough facility on West Front Street, above, with access to fewer resources from Monmouth County. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


HOT-TOPIC_03The question pops up periodically, and did so several times last year in a user survey: would Red Bankers be better off if their library was part of the Monmouth County library system?

According to the Red Bank Public Library’s trustees, the answer is “no,” and it’s not a close call.

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Jersey Shore CookbookFrom guided tours of the great restaurants, landmark buildings and vivid VIPs in our local communities, to the resting places of the most storied European monarchs, the month of April is a Book Fair of opportunity for anyone interested in a cracking-good nonfiction read — and the days and nights ahead offer readers numerous opportunities to meet and chat with the people who bring you the books, at locations all around the greater Green.

It’s a slate of events that kicks off this Thursday, April 7, in the surprising setting of Sea Bright’s Ama Ristorante — a venue that comes into sharper focus with the revelation that the 6 p.m. event is a cocktail-hour reception for The Jersey Shore Cookbook: Fresh Flavors from the Boardwalk and Beyond. Author (and founder of Jerseybites.com) Deborah Smith will be on hand to sign preview copies of the soon-to-be-released volume, a collection of recipes from some of the Shore’s most popular restaurants and eateries (Ama included). Also featured is an insider’s guide to navigating the local foodscape, as well as “the effects of Superstorm Sandy on nearly every establishment in the book and what it took to come back after the devastation.” Attendees at the two-hour reception will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a complimentary beverage, a demo by Ama Executive Chef Charles Lesbirel, plus a $15 gift card — and tickets ($50 per person; $75 per couple) can be reserved at (732)530-9760.

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IMG_0131Red Bicycle Studio owner Jonathan Erdelyi meets  a group of students from Ms. Wall’s bilingual class at Red Bank Primary School, during a visit keyed to a classroom poster project.

Press release from Red Bank Primary School

They’re called “The Wallstars,” a group of 23 students from Mercedes Wall’s bilingual class at Red Bank Primary School — and when the students paid a visit to The Red Bicycle Studio on Front Street recently, it was the culminating event to a project that saw the class create informational posters about bicycles, currently on displayed at the Front Street store owned by Jonathan Erdelyi.

Mrs. Wall’s class had been hard at work over the last three weeks, researching and developing posters that both depict and teach others about the different bicycles available to everyone today. The students researched the topic using a variety of resources, including more than 20 books from the Monmouth County Library, countless web sites from local bike shops and many educational bicycle web sites.  In addition, bicycle parts were brought into the classroom as a way to gain background information. The collaboration included many days of group work, peer assessment and countless revisions and rewrites.

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NINEtheatricalsThey’re dressed in the photo for a holiday-season presentation, but the troupers of NINE Theatricals have a summertime treat in store, when they bring their original BOARDWALK PLAYS to the county library’s Eastern Branch on Wednesday.

There’s the self-styled doctor who dispenses “Cheap Therapy” to anyone who will listen, on the Ocean City boardwalk. The old friends whose rollercoaster relationship plays out “Under the Elephant” in Margate. And those “Surf City All Stars,” in which audience members are called upon to judge the hopefuls competing in a Long Beach Island talent show. They’re all part of The Boardwalk Plays, a trio of one-acts set in some familiar Jersey locales — and heading up the shore to the Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch on Wednesday evening.

Scripted by Ed Shakespeare (no relation) and Linda Turash, the program is the work of NINE Theatricals, a Shore-based troupe that tours libraries and senior facilities with a repertory of original comedy presentations that include a takeoff on Judge Judy and a program of highlights from the old Carol Burnett Show. With Boardwalk Plays, the folks from NINE will be bringing a new property before the local audience for an intimate performance that begins at 7 pm.

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Di-Ionno-Headshot_Full-001-featuredStar-Ledger journalist Mark DiIonno is the guest speaker for a Wednesday evening reception “Celebrating Past, Present and Future,” at the county Park System’s Thompson Park headquarters.

“Celebrating Past, Present and Future” is the broad-reaching theme  — and New Jersey’s 350th birthday year is the occasion — as the Thompson Park homebase of the Monmouth County Park System hosts a special opening reception in advance of Thursday’s 2014 NJ History and Historic Preservation Conference at Brookdale Community College.

On Wednesday evening, June 4, an assembly of historians, academics, civic dignitaries and preservation-minded members of the general public will convene inside the Thompson Hall administrative building at the county park on Newman Springs Road, for a 5:30 pm event that should be of interest to anyone who’s interested in the rescue and renovation of such historic sites as Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune House, and Little Silver’s Parker Homestead. A benefit for the nonprofit New Jersey History Advocates, the event boasts the participation of a uniquely Jersey voice — that of Star-Ledger ace reporter Mark DiIonno.

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barynyaYou call that a balalaika? Now THIS is a balalaika…and Elina Karokhina and Mikhail Smirnov of the Barynya troupe are not afraid to use it, when the traditional Russian music act comes to the Eastern Branch of the county library on Thursday evening.

With the Secretary of State meeting with “his Russian counterpart” every other news cycle, you could say that Russia is currently on the American cultural radar screen more than it’s been in a generation — and over at the Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch, the radar’s pulsing with an incoming act that’s got the Hotline heating up as never before. The musicians and dancers of the NJ-based Barynya troupe have long brought traditional sounds and steps to regional audiences, in contexts that range from full ensembles to intimate trios and duos, with the core of master musicians — virtuoso lead balalaika player Elina Karokhina, instrumentalist and educator Alex Siniavsky, guitarist-accordionist Mikhail Smirnov, and Leonid Bruk, he of the giant contra (bass) balalaika — conjuring highly danceable spells that carry echoes of everything from mandolin-fired bluegrass to supercharged surf rock.

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For the past two decades, taxpayers seeking help with their income tax returns have found help at the Monmouth County Library. Beginning Tuesday, February 4, volunteers from the AARP Tax Aide program will offer free tax preparation assistance at all County Library branches, including the Eastern Branch on Broad Street (Route 35) in Shrewsbury.

This service, which is also offered at the County Library locations in Manalapan and Wall, is available for low-and middle-income taxpayers with simple returns, through the tax filing deadline date of April 15.

Hours for tax prep assistance services in the months of February and April are Mondays 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, Tuesdays 9:30 am to 1 pm; Wednesdays 1 pm to 7:30 pm; Thursdays 9:30 am to 1 pm; Fridays 9:30 am to  pm; Saturdays 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, and Sundays 1 pm to 3:30 pm.

Hours in March are Mondays 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, Wednesdays 1 pm to 7:30 pm; Thursdays 9:30 am to 5 pm; Saturdays 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, and Sundays 1 pm to 3:30 pm.


lacombe_jacques2Above: Conductor Jacques Lacombe carries the baton to the Basie for the year’s first visit by the NJ Symphony Orchestra, with the internationally acclaimed cellist Daniel Müller-Schott along for the ride…while below, Judith Krall-Russo brings the Downton-y delights of the Edwardian Manor to the MTPL. 

Friday, January 10:

krallrussoLINCROFT: You say you’re feeling cabin feverish after being housebound throughout much of our recent epic weather wackiness? You say you’re still unsure about how best to re-assimilate into mainstream society? Fortunately there’s a way to “stay home” while venturing beyond the garden gate, as the 24th annual winter edition of the Jersey Shore Home Show commandeers the Robert J. Collins Arena at Brookdale Community College for the Shore area’s premier expo of home improvement contractors, vendors and manufacturers. Kicking off Friday between the hours of 4 and 8 pm, the event offers up a strolling smorgasbord of product showcases and demos — a brick ‘n mortar bazaar of everything from spas to sponges, bath stalls to burglar alarms, flagpoles to floor coverings, stonework to solar panels, windows to water treatments, and every helpful/ healthful thing between. Whether you’re a diehard DIY’er or a domestic dilettante, you can get pleasantly lost in this midway of merch and services, checking out the latest super-absorbent shammy or water-repellant shingle. You could even get a back rub — and for the first time, you can get your tickets ($8 adults, $6 seniors, free for age 17 and under) online. The Home Show continues Saturday (11 am – 8 pm) and Sunday (11 am – 5 pm), with free parking in BCC’s parking lots 6 and 7.

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authorsAuthors May Becker, Susan E. Davis and Lisa Borders appear at libraries and bookstores around the greater Green on Saturday afternoon. Below, Michael Morch, Jennifer Grasso, Laura Gepford and Ian Brown-Gorrell head up the cast in Phoenix Productions’ staging of ‘White Christmas.’

White_Christmas_4bThe days and weeks leading up to Thanks Thursday and Black Friday buy us a little more time to approach the holiday season at our own pace… a chance to chill in the outdoors with a few more hours of autumn sun, or to head home and curl up with some comfort food and a good book.

Friday, November 15:

RED BANK: Or, you could just cut to the chase and surrender to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, the season-closing musical entertainment from Phoenix Productions on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre. Come for tonight’s opening performance at 8 pm, and you’ll get more than just a jaunty romance-in-rhythm packed with Berlin blockbusters like “Happy Holiday,” “Blue Skies” and the title tune — you’ll get a shot at the traditional Phoenix 50/50 raffle and, as is traditional on Opening Night, you’ll get a first look ahead to the borough-based troupe’s 2014 season. Show continues through November 24; take it here to reserve tickets — and here for our feature on some exciting new developments at the Phoenix fun factory.

RUMSON: He’s fronted the 21st century edition of Blood Sweat & Tears; subbed for Belushi in The Original Blues Brothers Band; shared stages with everyone from Boy George to B.B. King, and toured the region’s roadhouses with his own Hudson River Rats (an upstanding organization that boasts legendary drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie). You might recall blues-rock belter and ace harmonicat Rob Paparozzi from those open-air Red Bank Jazz & Blues Fests of yore — but when Rob and Friends take it indoors to Barnacle Bill’s for some Friday night sets, they’ll be tearing the roof from the joint with a harpin’ helpin’ of houseparty hospitality, and the kind of star quality that keeps paparazzi flashbulbs a-poppin’.

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hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Adding to a multi-town spree that police say may be the work of one individual or group, at least 21 vehicles were illegally entered and burglarized in Shrewsbury last Friday.

In all cases, the vehicles were unlocked, said police Chief John Wilson.

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mon-libA library patron pulling down free wifi over coffee at the new café Thursday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


The Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library in Shrewsbury is trying to elbow its way past the big-box booksellers like Barnes & Noble and Borders, where a visitor these days might laze on a plush couch with a cup of coffee and a laptop while perusing a potential purchase.

Well, you can do that at the library now, too.

The county branch will cut the ribbon tomorrow on its newest addition: the Lion’s Den Café, a second-story lounge that overhangs the vast literary collection below. It’s a spot where one can grab coffee or lunch and get into a book in typical library quietude.

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dressesChecklist for this weekend’s visit to the library: some fiction, perhaps in the pages of Wolf Hall. Some real-life stuff with unreal characters, a la The Politician. A DVD or two.

Oh, and maybe a short little spaghetti-strap dress from Vera Wang.

A dress? Sure, why not?

The Eastern Monmouth branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury will hold its third annual “Sweet Seconds Prom Dress Swap” from noon to 4p Saturday.

It’s an event that mixes swap meet rules with charity to offer formal and semi-formal women’s attire for events like proms, spring dances or a fancy day on the town. Read More »