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RED BANK: WINTER WONDERLAND ON BROAD

red bank, nj, broad streetA synthetic-ice rink will be installed on Broad Street between Wallace and White streets, above. Below, an example of one of the vendor’s giant snow globes. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank, nj, winter, ice rink, snow globeA stretch of downtown Red Bank will be turned into a one-day winter wonderland complete with skating on Sunday.

Dubbed ‘Winter on Broad Street,’ the plan also calls for a walk-in snowglobe families can use for selfies and a shopping bazaar featuring locally made items.

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CRAVINGS: A BUSHEL IN A BURRITO

90516calientecantina1A fried sweet apple burrito covered in two sauces and ice cream. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsSeasonal changes can induce all sorts of fresh cravings, and with September screaming “apple season,” PieHole stumbles on a dessert so tasty, and in such an unlikely place, that sharing our bonanza is all we can do.

Read on to see where you can feast on this crave-able cinnamon-scented apple burrito.
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RED BANK: FARMERS AND CHEFS ON PUMPKINS

092015farmersmktrb2Michelle O’Connor at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market with pumpkins grown at Brookville Farms.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumAutumn has arrived on the Greater Red Bank Green, and that means we’re in for a plethora of pumpkin-flavored options in coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants.

But home cooks use them too, of course. And with that in mind, PieHole popped in at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market and a couple of local eateries to get some insights on choosing and using pumpkins.

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SEA BRIGHT: COUNCIL WAIVES PERMIT FEES

Members of the borough council at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Amid complaints by residents about unresolved insurance claims and other rebuilding delays, the Sea Bright borough council rolled out several measures aimed at getting them back into their homes with less hassle and cost Tuesday night.

Among the moves: a moratorium on construction permit fees for all work related to Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding and repairs.

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SEA BRIGHT: EATING, REFLECTING AND RISING

Chris Wood, as seen in a video, above, and Mayor Dina Long, below, at Saturday night’s event, which raised $130,000 for Sea Bright Rising. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

A hotel in Long Branch was transformed into a showcase of the area’s best culinary talents Saturday night, courtesy of the charity organization Sea Bright Rising and the generosity of local vendors and restaurant owners.

Complete with a live band, charity auction and a video showcasing the relief effort, the sold-out gala, dubbed “The Big Beach Bash,” raised almost $130,000 for Sea Bright’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, according to the charity group’s Facebook page.

But the real story of the event was perhaps best told by the restaurateurs and merchants whose tables lined the walls of the ballroom of the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Many were Sea Bright business owners trying to help rebuild their broken beach community joined by owners from neighboring towns looking to lend a hand to friends in need.

Over the lively the noise and, redbankgreen spoke with some of these participating businesses, and here’s what they had to say:

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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE TOUTS FOCUS ON BIZ

Joined by Mayor Dina Long and business owners, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a new cabinet-level office to focus on post-storm rebuilding efforts. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Governor Chris Christie came to Sea Bright Friday afternoon, making his second visit to the storm-ravaged community since Hurricane Sandy struck. But while his first visit was a gesture of support to the beachside borough, this trip was all business.

At a news conference in the borough firehouse, Christie stood in front of a signs from local businesses including Bain’s Hardware, Woody’s Oceanfront Grille and Sea Bright Pizza to announce and lay out plans to help businesses that were affected by the hurricane. These include, he said, the creation of a new cabinet-level position – the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – and the formation of a business impact assessment group, designed to aid businesses on a personal level.

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S IS BACK IN THE PAINT

Frank Bain working the phone and the computer in the freshly restored paint section of his hardware store. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The rebuilding process in Sea Bright took a big step forward this week when Ocean Avenue mainstay Bain’s Hardware reopened its doors to the public for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit.

“We opened at noon on 12/12/12 – why go to some concert when you could come down here, right?” owner Frank Bain told redbankgreen Thursday in his newly renovated shop.

Less than seven weeks ago, Bain’s store and every piece of inventory inside of it was destroyed. Now, the half of the store that is currently open looks as though it was never touched by the storm.

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SECOND ‘MOUNTAIN’ PILES UP MEMORIES

A passerby eyes debris in the Anchorage Beach parking lot, above, while a mountain of it dominates the former Peninsula House lot, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Mount Sandy, meet Mount Refuse.

Though smaller in stature, the mountain of debris occupying in Sea Bright’s old Peninsula House parking lot on Ocean Avenue is just as scene-stealing and ominous as its sand counterpart, located just a stone’s throw away. This ever-growing pile, however, won’t have onlookers climbing it or posing for closeups anytime soon.

The refuse is the accumulated result of curbside trash pickups in this Hurricane Sandy-smashed town, where residents and business owners are early on in a restoration effort.

It stands, however briefly, as a jarring, visceral reminder of the storm’s reach over porches, through doors and windows, and into rooms and closets.

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SEA BRIGHT: AMID TEARS, GUARD ROLLS OUT

Sea Bright’s tent city was largely dismantled by Friday afternoon. Below, Governor Chris Christie speaking with National Guardsmen at the site on November 9. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After six weeks of assisting displaced residents and first responders with everything from hot meals to extra clothes, Sea Bright’s tent city – created by the US National Guard – is leaving town.

Following a final community meal on Thursday,  National Guardsmen made their move out of the municipal parking lot around 10:30 a.m. Friday, according to Onofrio Moscato, head chef at neighboring restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille, Emotions were running high for the Guard as well as volunteers and residents, he said.

“The National Guard was escorted out by the Sea Bright firemen,” Moscato told redbankgreen. “They were hanging out of the windows and waving. It was a special send-off for them. Before they left, they all stood in line and made a final salute, kind of a sign that their mission here was over.”

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HOT DOG CART AND CHIC EATERY BACK IN BIZ

Hot dog seller Frances Rooney poses for a photo with admirers, including Councilwoman Peggy Bills, at right above. Below, Pat Trama in his restored restaurant. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

One of Sea Bright’s oldest food businesses reopened this week, and one of its newest was scheduled to do so Friday night, two signs that the storm-battered town is cooking up a recovery.

Frances Rooney, affectionately known as “Grandma Hot Dog,”  fired up the gas on her cart this week and was soon attracting lines of hungry and loyal customers.

“My son was the one who really encouraged me to come back out here and start serving people again – sooner rather than later,” she told redbankgreen, “He thought it would be a comforting sight for everyone to see me back in business, up on my feet.”

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RUMSON TEEN’S STORM VIDEO DRAWS TRAIN

A 33-minute video about Hurricane Sandy by a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional student caught the attention of the rock band Train, which will play an acoustic show in Sea Bright as a result, NJ.com reported Wednesday.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Nagy videotaped conditions in Sea Bright and Rumson before, during and after the October 29 storm, and folded the band’s music into her production. Now, the San Francisco-based band is planning to play a private show for residents, first responders and their families next week, with the performance to be aired on on VH1 Christmas Day, the website of the Star-Ledger reports.

The effort will spotlight the efforts of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit devoted to the general recovery of the town of Sea Bright and care for its residents in the interim.

From the story:

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S PAINTS ITS OWN FUTURE

Frank Bain outside his Ocean Avenue hardware store, where all the inventory was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

“This isn’t a competition,” said a stone-faced Frank Bain, when asked if his would be the first business to reopen in Sea Bright after Hurricane Sandy.

But checking in on recent activity at Bain’s Hardware, a visitor might conclude that not only was Bain in a race, but one that his life depended on winning.

One late afternoon last week, the Ocean Avenue storefront was a swarm of dust-encrusted laborers, some installing new subflooring even as others continued with interior demolition work. At one point, an impromptu crew, Bain included, picked up and hustled the pieces of a shattered street lamp from the sidewalk out front to the side of the building.

Make no mistake about it: Bain is in a major hurry. With no flood insurance and every item in his 65,000-SKU shop destroyed, his economic life hangs in the balance, he’s the first to admit. “Getting that register ringing again is paramount,” he told redbankgreen.

But he’s driven just as much, he said, by the importance of his store to other businesses and homeowners who themselves are faced with rebuilding challenges. “We are out here working so that we can get back on our feet and help this town as soon as humanly possible,” he said.

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SEA BRIGHT: ON TOP OF MOUNT SANDY

Rachel Pedersen and Carolyn Rigby on the Sea Bright sandpile, which attracts dog-walkers and other sightseers. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The beach clubs and bars may be temporarily gone, but Sea Bright appears to have a new, if temporary attraction: ‘Mount Sandy.’

Rising perhaps 40 feet above the ocean beach on which it was built, a giant pile of sand reclaimed from the storm-tossed borough’s streets has been luring sightseers willing to climb its soft face, rewarding them with a bird’s-eye view of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.

Just yards away, in fact, is a another mountain rising, this one made of discarded appliances, furniture and building materials.

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SEA BRIGHT MOVES MEETING TO THE BASIE

The mayor and council of Sea Bright took to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Monday night to accommodate a crowd that would not have fit into the town’s borough hall. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

It was anything but business as usual for Sea Bright residents as they gathered for their borough council’s bimonthly  meeting Monday night.

Stoked by concerns that their homes and businesses might not be rebuilt in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s extensive damage, dozens filled seats near the stage at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre to pepper elected officials with questions about everything from stray transformers to the fate of their town.

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SEA BRIGHT: MERCHANTS PLAN NEW STARTS

Cono Trezza in his newly built pizzeria last February, and as it appeared five days after the storm, below. (Photo below by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

For owners of Sea Bright businesses damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the rebuilding process has just begun. As they assess the damages and take steps toward the recovery of their livelihoods, each has his or her own distinct post-Sandy tale to tell. redbankgreen spoke to four of them this week about their plans in the aftermath of the cataclysmic events that ravaged through their beach community. Here are their stories.

Sea Bright Pizza:
Cono Trezza faces an uphill battle, like most property owners in Sea Bright, though he is meeting it with spirit and vigor that some might find surprising, given the state of his business.

“I want to get back as soon as possible,” Trezza said. “If my ovens were working right now I’d start cooking pizzas for everyone that’s out here.”

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SEA BRIGHT: MOVING ‘MOUNT SANDY’

Bulldozers redistributing sand recovered from the streets of Sea Bright on the borough beach Wednesday morning. Below, contractor Mike Stavola with Governor Chris Christie last week. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s been dubbed ‘Mount Sandy,’ and in its enormity, it looms as one of many reminders of the woes inflicted on Sea Bright by Hurricane Sandy on October 29.

We’re talking about a pile of sand so wide and tall – upwards of 60 feet, says the contractor who built it – that it blocks the view of the ocean from nearly any spot in the municipal beach parking lot.

But the sandpile also stands as a gritty reminder of the rapid progress being made in restoring out the town, while prompting questions about the future of the beaches.

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SEA BRIGHT REOPENS TO OUTSIDERS

As seen in two views along Ocean Avenue Wednesday morning, passenger vehicles must share the road with earth movers, backhoes and dumptrucks. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After more than two weeks in lockdown to everyone but residents and restoration workers, Sea Bright took down the barricades Wednesday morning.

With the opening of checkpoints at the Rumson Road entry to town and the northern and southern borders on Ocean Avenue, traffic was trickling through the narrow sandbar borough shortly after dawn.

The Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge drawbridge was also back in service, having had its electricity shut off as a precautionary measure in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

Now, officials are bracing for a possible influx of gawkers eager to eyeball the destroyed beach clubs and downtown up close.

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CHRISTIE SHINES A SPOTLIGHT ON SEA BRIGHT

Prompted by a request from Mayor Dina Long and Councilman Read Murphy to keep Ocean Avenue closed to through traffic, Governor Chris Christie summons his transportation secretary during a visit to the borough Friday. Below, Christie tours a National Guard galley set up as part of a relief camp. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

On the first day since Hurricane Sandy that building contractors were allowed into town, Governor Christie Christie visited Sea Bright Friday to call attention to the lingering devastation along New Jersey’s coastline as the rest of the state staggers back toward normalcy.

Touring an encampment of National Guard tents erected in the municipal parking lot to serve emergency volunteers, utility contractors and, soon, residents, Christie said there’s a lot of work to do at the Shore, and no one should expect it all to be completed by Memorial Day.

“By Monday, I think, things are going to be, for most people in the state, back to normal,” he told borough Engineer Jaclyn Flor in an impromptu chat. But for hard-hit places like Sea Bright, “first we have to sit down and talk about what we want normal to be, and what you want it to look like, and then we have to go to the federal government and say to them we need some money to get it that way.”

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SEA BRIGHT READIES FOR RESIDENTS’ RETURN

Aided by the Army, volunteers have built an encampment of tents to serve food and provide other necessities to Sea Brighters when they’re allowed back into town. Restaurateur Chris Wood, below, unloads supplies. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Outside a mobile kitchen, a National Guardsman chows down a hot dog before helping young volunteers unload boxes of supplies from a tractor trailer in the heart of a newly erected tent city that’s taken shape in the heart of Sea Bright.

With regulation Army tents, Humvees, makeshift kitchens and grills, the parking lot next door to the borough firehouse is looking more like a refugee camp than the slice of summer heaven that draws thousands of visitors each summer.

But the camp has been built in anticipation of an influx not of tourists but of exiled Sea Brighters, who’ve been shut out of their town since leaving under a mandatory evacuation order in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

Chris Wood, owner of Woody’s Ocean Grille, who has spearheaded an effort to feed first responders, relief workers and volunteers, plans to expand the effort exponentially when residents and contractors begin moving back to town, perhaps as early as Monday.

“We’re going to have it all,” Wood said Thursday, while unloading some boxes himself, “three hot meals a day to anyone who needs them, and a veritable Wal-Mart of supplies and clothing, available to anyone and everyone that needs them.”

Beginning Friday, residents and business owners were to be allowed into the sequestered town on a day basis only, accompanied by contractors, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Mayor Dina Long. Also on Friday, Governor Chris Christie was expected to make an 11 a.m. stop in town “to thank the heroes on the ground,” she said.

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SEA BRIGHT SHAKES OFF NORTHEASTER

U.S. Army soldiers setting up mess tents in Sea Bright next to the firehouse Thursday to serve work crews and, starting next week, returning residents.  (Photo by Chris Wood. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Sea Bright experienced nothing more than “typical street flooding” from the Shrewsbury River during Wednesday night’s northeaster, Mayor Dina Long tells redbankgreen.

“It was a quiet night in Sea Bright” with no additional damage to homes and businesses in the hurricane-shattered town, Long said Thursday. Heavy-duty work on streets and utilities aimed at bringing the sandbar municipality back to life has resumed, she said.

That work is now expected to be advanced enough to allow residents to return to their homes next Monday – assuming that Governor Chris Christie first lifts the mandatory evacuation order he issued in advance of Hurricane Sandy, Long said.

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SEA BRIGHT: SHOCK AND DISMAY AT DAMAGE

A home on the Shrewsbury River side of Sea Bright showed the height of the flooding on Saturday. Below, a resident leaves a shuttle bus with recovered belongings on Monday, assisted by Councilman James LoBiondo. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

One resident fled with nothing but his paycheck. A young couple stayed, fleeing with their two-year-old child only after watching a hurricane tear their town apart.

This week, they and other Sea Brighters began getting their first glimpses of the destructive power of Hurricane Sandy, which many of them had anticipated would blow past this sandbar town much as another storm did nearly 14 months earlier.

“I thought it would be a situation like Irene, where it turned out to be not much of a big deal,” Jim Paustian said Tuesday, as he and his family took photos outside their East New Street home, which is now uninhabitable.  “I even almost decided to stay. Now, I’m sure glad I didn’t.”

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