RED BANK: LIGHT THERAPY FOR BLACK FRIDAY

Tim and tree lighting with Karen CTim McLoone keynotes the season of lights in downtown Red Bank with the traditional Holiday Express outdoor concert on Black Friday.

tim-grinch-band-rblightingCharlie 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.

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RED BANK: EXPRESS TO THE SEASON OF LIGHTS

crowd 112709The 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

stage 2 112709As 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.

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