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For the 24th straight year, the feel-jolly sounds of Holiday Express served as the soundtrack to a Town Lighting ceremony that drew thousands of visitors to downtown Red Bank Friday night. Were you among those who braved the drizzle for the dazzle? Check out our photos to see who you might recognize. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Tim McLoone, at left above, and the Holiday Express band get some help kicking off another silver-bells season on the sidewalks of Red Bank at Friday night’s annual Town Lighting concert. Jackie Evancho (below) brings a program of holiday songs and hits to the Count Basie stage. (Photo above by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
If it’s accomplished nothing else during its quarter century of continuous service, Red Bank’s annual Town Lighting ceremony has successfully wrested the idea of “Black Friday” from visions of crushing chaos at the mall to one of sing-along harmony in a walkable-wonderland setting of merry commerce and activity.
When the lights are ceremoniously lit in downtown Red Bank for the 24th consecutive year this Friday evening, it will come not a moment too soon for an extended community that really does need a little Christmas, right this very minute. And summoned once more into service like a jinglebell-jukebox Justice League will be Holiday Express, the big traveling winter wall of sound whose founder and skipper Tim McLoone has helped sound the keynote and flip the switch on a generation’s worth of festive occasions in the heart of Red Bank’s downtown diorama.
Tim McLoone (below) and Holiday Express sound the keynote for another silver-bells season on the sidewalks of Red Bank with a free concert and Town Lighting ceremony Friday night. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
He’s the leader of the band and founder of the winter-wonderland wall of sound known as Holiday Express. As such, Tim McLoone is also the conductor of a festive freight-train that each year carries its message of community and caring to the places that almost no one wants to think about — not even during the holidays.
And every Black Friday evening, McLoone is a conductor of electricity — when he and the big band sound the keynote and flip the switch on a season of sights and Santa-fied activities that make Red Bank the area’s undisputed Capital of Christmastime.
Charlie Brown, Ralphie, Rudolph – not a one ever concerned himself with the concept of “Black Friday” in their day. And when Red Bank celebrates its annual Holiday Express concert and Town Lighting this Friday night, it will do so with a curious new mission: to take back the purity, and the sanctity, of Black Friday.
The Christmas-capital crossroads of Broad and Canal streets is the place to be on Friday night, when Holiday Express presides over the annual concert and town lighting ceremony. (File photos. Click to enlarge)
By TOM CHESEK
As Tim McLoone tells it, he’s “just the keyboard player” in Holiday Express, the winter-wonderland Wall of Sound and Brilliant Light that he founded and has fronted since 1993. But if the big band is merely the part of the all-volunteer humanitarian train that “makes the most noise,” then there’s more to the Express seasonal journey than meets the eye or ear.
The 21st season of performances by Holiday Express — a schedule that takes two regional touring and support units to 60-plus stops in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — actually got underway more than two weeks ago. By December 24, the Express team will have logged some 10,000 miles visiting, playing for and distributing gifts to more than 15,000 people in area homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, developmental centers, children’s wards and other places well off the beaten path — places whose residents are often without any family or friends.
For most of us, however, the keynote to the holiday season on the greater Red Bank Green happens on the evening of Black Friday, when the Express makes a rare public-invited pitstop to the downtown nexus of Broad and Canal streets. It’s there, on November 29, that McLoone and company will be flipping the switch on a wintry interlude of special activities and events in the borough — a Town Lighting made all the more special, with the welcome return of some much-missed local traditions.