The R-FH Area Weekend: RFH ‘Young Frankenstein,’ ‘Godspell’ & a Wedding Walk


This weekend in the Rumson-Fair Haven area is all about theater and brides.


For tonight, Friday, take note that Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Tower Players’ production of Young Frankenstein has been postponed to Sunday night at 7 p.m.

• Curtain time for the Monmouth Players’ production of Godspell is 8:15 p.m.

Continue reading The R-FH Area Weekend: RFH ‘Young Frankenstein,’ ‘Godspell’ & a Wedding Walk

Will You Love Tank Furever?


Tank, at the Monmouth County SPCA, lends a hand and needs a home. Photo/MCSPCA website screenshot
Tank, at the Monmouth County SPCA, lends a hand and needs a home.
Photo/MCSPCA website screenshot

Our featured four-legged friend up for adoption this week is Tank.

Tank is a 2-year-old, 63-pound mix who is trained and understands basic commands.

“I lean up against you for affection and pets,” the post on Monmouth County SPCA’s website says. “I am very gentle with treats.”

Tank likes other dogs and loves to watch dinner being made.

Check this guy out on the MCSPCA website and connect with many of his friends who also need homes.


Retro RFH Baseball, Anyone?

Playing ball in the 1970s at RFH Photo/George Day
Playing ball in the 1970s at RFH
Photo/George Day

Spring is in the air — well, sort of.

So, to honor the immediately impending coming of spring, our Retro Pic of the (George) Day also commemorates the coming of the baseball season.

Here’s a shot from the 1970s of some RFHers playing ball.

Remember these uniforms?

Thanks, again, to George Day for this and so many other great photos!

Anyone with a pic from the past, please send it to us, with proper credit, at, and we will feature it as a Retro Pic of the Day.


Fair Haven Mayor: ‘I’m Up to the Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets’

Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli and native Fair Havenite Dickson Mercer, speech writer for U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx Photo/courtesy of Ben Lucarelli
Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli and native Fair Havenite Dickson Mercer, speech writer for U.S. DOT Secretary Foxx
Photo/courtesy of Ben Lucarelli

By Elaine Van Develde

To know Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli is to know that he is an avid bicyclist and troubadour for safe bike and pedestrian travels. It’s also to know that the cycling he loves has taken two of his friends, people he cared for and admired, in the past two years, and walks across the street took two other members of the community before them.

So, the issue of bicycle and pedestrian safety on the streets where he lives hits home in more ways than one for Mayor Lucarelli.

Councilman Jerome Koch succumbed to injuries he sustained in a tragic accident with a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle last year. And triathlete Cole Porter died in 2013 after a mishap in the Tour de Fair Haven race when he collided with a race officiator on a closed borough-wide course.

Besides Lucarelli’s friends falling victim to fatal bike accidents, in the early 2000s a man was killed when hit by a car crossing River Road.  A woman was killed in 2009 crossing the same main street in the same area of the 1.6-square-mile borough.

So, when the mayor was offered the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets, he eagerly accepted and headed to a summit “to identify and remove barriers to improving non-motorized safety” last week in Washington D.C..

The mayor is passionate about the idea of safely integrating pedestrian and bicycle traffic with motor vehicles. For him, that passion emanates from those focal home-base tragedies to encompass a community, even worldwide spectrum.

“We have people utilizing the roads right now and bad things are happening,” Lucarelli said on Wednesday. “It’s been very difficult (trying to come to terms with Porter and Koch’s deaths). To a certain extent, the effort I am putting forth with everything I’ve got is to honor both Cole and Jerome.”

While the mayor pointed out that there was a distinct difference in the cyclist tragedies — Porter’s being on a closed, motor vehicle traffic-free course — the legacies of the two are a persistent source of motivation. He was in the race Porter was in, yards away; and he had passed Koch on the road not long before before his accident.

“Jerome was just a regular guy — a father, a grandfather — out riding his bike around,” Lucarelli said. “It was an accident, an extremely tragic one that hit me hard. Unfortunately, it was also an example of how society is not yet acclimated to the integration of bikes in the flow of motor vehicle traffic — a growing, natural trend that’s becoming more and more necessary.”

For Lucarelli, it’s all about the general populace growing in accordance with a simple measure that keeps pace with ever-changing demographics, community revitalization, a healthier environment and pure economics.

And, for him, the mission begins at home, where his heart is.

Now after attending the Safer People, Safer Streets summit, Lucarelli says he’s even better prepared to be an ambassador for pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets his own town and promoting the innovation in the surrounding area. And he is equipped with what he sees as a trove of  information he’s anxious to share.

“While in American society the motor vehicle is the predominant mode of transportation, almost to a debilitating degree, there is now a greater demand to use roads for bicyclists and pedestrians, so that demand needs to be facilitated,” Lucarelli said. “Society’s changing in this direction and I think it’s for the better for everyone. We have to learn to use the roads in a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly way. Suburbia needs to wake up and find these facilities.”

The mayor explained that statistics show that as the population increases, the demands on the infrastructure become more strained.

For instance, according to U.S. DOT estimates, the country’s population is slated to increase 25 percent in the next 30 years, or by about 80 million people, up from roughly 319 million.

In 2013, according to U.S. DOT statistics, there were about 4,300 vehicle-pedestrian accidents that resulted in death. The same year, there were 471 fatal vehicle-bicycle accidents.

Both the federal and state DOTs recognize that the shift becomes a more natural one with the statistic change and encourages nationwide involvement to the extent that, Lucarelli said, many of the grants available will be given more liberally to the municipalities that embrace the concept.

“It makes sense. There’s not enough money, or room, to widen roads to accommodate the coinciding increase in vehicular traffic,” he said. “So, we need to rely more on a combination of mass transit, pedestrian and bike traffic so that vehicular traffic is reduced. When bicycle and pedestrian lanes are added to roads, and people acclimate to knowing they are there, it’s for the better.”

In Europe, Lucarelli noted, the acclimation has been historically consistent. Europeans are less reliant on cars as a chief mode of transportation and more on bikes, so the roads are naturally more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

And it’s cheap to make the change, he said. It involves, in most cases, a bucket, or few, of paint. As part of the state DOT Complete Streets initiative, bike lanes are painted onto the existing main roadways with what’s dubbed sharrows, on-road signage to signal narrowing.

It’s also much more difficult to get a license to operate a motorized vehicle, including motorcycles, he noted. The licenses are graduated with the power of the vehicle. For instance, he said, it would take six years to get a license for a 100 horsepower motorcycle in France, whereas in the United States it’s more a matter of months, if that.

And in Europe, where cyclists outnumber drivers, there are no helmet laws, just by virtue of the fact that drivers are naturally more aware, Lucarelli said.

“Here, in the United States, you need a vehicle to survive,” he said. “So, the standards are different.”

And the U.S. DOT is busy fulfilling what officials there have said is a salient need to bring bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly travel to the states.

For the immediate area, including Sea Bright, Rumson, Fair Haven and Red Bank, the mayor said he’d like to see a marked main roadway paths for cyclists in stretches from one bordering town the other.

The roads are county roads, so that must come with county road improvements. Fair Haven has been implementing its own Streetscape program for the past several years. The NJ DOT Complete Streets end of it he said he hopes to see come to fruition by 2016.

And he’s been adamant about pushing it.

“The change is happening, the DOT is backing it and we’re going with it,” Lucarelli said.


Facts Behind the RFH Boys Basketball SCT Win

The following information was culled from a press release issued by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

News spread very quickly when the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Boys Basketball team made history with its first Shore Conference Tournament (SCT) victory, toppling Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) with a 50-24 score.

Since the Feb. 27 banner game, though, more milestones have been hit.

RFH point guard Brendan Barry has been named Player of the Year and Varsity Head Coach Chris Champeau has been named Coach of the Year by the Shore Coaches Association, according to a press release from RFH.

Here are some other facts about the game that you may or may not know:

Continue reading Facts Behind the RFH Boys Basketball SCT Win

Rumson’s Paul Shea Passes Away at 90


The following is the edited obituary of Paul J. Shea, courtesy of Thompson Memorial Home:

Lifetime Rumson resident Paul J. Shea Sr. passed away on March 13 at the NJ Fireman’s Home, Boonton. He was 90.

A member of the Rumson Fire Company for 69 years, Paul was a communicant of Holy Cross Church in Rumson, and, for 25 years, was the sexton for St. Georges-by-the-River Episcopal Church in Rumson.

He proudly served his country in World War II as a gunner in the U.S. Navy in all three theaters of war.

Paul was predeceased by: his wife Carole D. Lennen, who died in 2003; his twin brother, Thomas; and his brother Daniel.

He is survived by: his son, Paul J. Shea, Jr. and wife Elaine, of Lincroft; and his sister, Lillian Briskey, of Oceanport.

Visitation will be held on Friday, March 20, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad Street, Red Bank.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, March 21 at 9 a.m. at St. James RC Church, Red Bank.

Interment will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Middletown.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorial donations to the Monmouth County SPCA, 260 Wall Street, P.O. Box 93, Eatontown, NJ 07724, or online at

Anyone who would like to contribute memories/comments for a memorial tribute to Paul is welcome to send them to

A Retro Ode to Briody Bunch on St. Paddy’s Day

‘Tis St. Patrick’s Day.

So, to honor the day with some local connection, our Retro Pic of the Day takes a look at Rumson’s Briody  family, fondly referred to as The Briody Bunch.

The crew with longtime Rumson roots always marches, and rides, in the Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Here they are!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Tell us about your favorite “bunch,” or family of Irish heritage in the area.

Rumson Teen Relays in Memory of RFH Grad, Grandma

By Elaine Van Develde

Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) graduate and lifetime Rumsonite Brittany Hopkins is prepping to take long trek for life in remembrance of two people who made an indelible impact on her life through their fights with and deaths to cancer — former fellow RFH grad, Alyson Raywood, and her grandmother, former Aberdeen resident Mathilde Altinger.

Both died in the fall of 2014 — Raywood on Oct. 11, 2014.

Raywood, 18, a member of the RFH Class of 2014 who is now a freshman at Boston College (BC), will join roughly 1,500 fellow undergraduates in a 12-hour American Cancer Society Relay for Life walk-a-thon,  at the college this weekend. And she’ll be doing it in the name of Raywood and Altinger.

At Boston College, where there are 9,000 undergraduates, “it is the largest non-athletic event on campus,” Hopkins said. “On Feb. 22, BC officially hit the $1 million mark of fundraising over the past 8 years. We are the first university in Massachusetts to do this. Boston College is trying to raise $175,000 this year; and so far we have raised $102,000.”

Hopkins was motivated by the love of her grandmother and the perseverance of Raywood, a 2013 RFH grad. Though she said she wasn’t close with Raywood, she saw her grow sick and couldn’t help but admire her for her positive outlook and bright smile in the face of adversity.

Hopkins’ motivation catapulted her into the fundraiser walk. She felt it was the least she could do to help in the fight against the cancer that stole two people with pivotal, unassuming roles in her life and the lives of so many others.

“When Alyson passed away, it seemed like a part of Rumson passed with her,” Hopkins said. “You could see how distraught the community was. This was the same with my grandmother. My grandmother was the most genuine, kind, generous person that anyone could imagine. When I lost her, I lost a part of myself.

“My grandmother and Alyson were incredibly strong and could put a smile on anyone’s face. It was a shame to watch cancer take over them, but I know they’re still with us in a way. It’s sad that a disease can take such special people away. I hope that we can decrease the amount of people diagnosed and that one day we can find a cure.”

Hopkins is Corporate Sponsorship chair on the Relay for Life Committee.

She has set a personal goal to raise $3,000 and is $300 shy of it. She is appealing to the Rumson-Fair Haven community for a boost for the May 20 to 21 walk.

Check out Hopkins’ fundraising page for Relay for Life at
or contact Hopkins directly at

A Fair Haven Farewell to Chum Chandler

By Elaine Van Develde

As was true-to-form for Chum Chandler, people are scratching their heads … itching to know where time went and why it must inevitably take someone like him away.

Mourned in a celebration of his life on Saturday, Chum Chandler, an iconic, lifelong Fair Havenite and 64-year fireman, was remembered as tall order of head-scratching, suspender-donning, side-splitting tough wrapped in a tender life embrace.

He called people by the wrong names just to mess with them. He loved to sneak in some sweets. His tell-it-like-it-is sayings spared no one. He was lovingly stingy with his show of emotion. He adorned his family and friends with a lot of anecdotal stories and strength. His eyes twinkled with mischief. He had no pretense.

He was, yes, a Fair Haven character — a big chunk of community foundation.

His family and friends told his story on Saturday at the Fair Haven firehouse — a place where Chum spent many years. But everyone knew him already.

They knew that guy. They knew his story. That’s because he was the kind of stuff Fair Haven is made of — a World War II U.S. Navy veteran, husband, father, brother, friend, neighbor, volunteer and just an unassuming, hard-working man trying to do the right thing, enjoy life to the fullest and pay it forward.

And, by all accounts, he did just that.

“It’s not what you take with you when you leave this world, it’s what you leave behind when you go,” his memorial card read.  “You left behind more than you could ever imagine …”

The family and friends of Chum still tried to account for it all, but what he left behind was more than they could possibly summon in a day’s worth of remembrance. Still, they made it through with enough Chum snippets and sound bites to celebrate him.

They talked about his ornery humor. It made them laugh between the tears. There was nothing blurred about their vision of Chum, though.

Daughter Lizzie scratched her head in imitation of her dad and his infernal noggin itch as, inevitably, some nugget of humor, wisdom or “one-of-a-kind” advice would drop out of his mouth like a candy in a Pez dispenser.

Carol, forever teased for talking too much, grappled to find the right words — words that she wished would prompt a familiar “Go pound salt!” from dad above.

He had lived with her for the past four years, she said. Fetching him some tea, feeding him something that his stomach wanted and just looking in on him to see if he was comfortably resting at bedtime was what she had grown accustomed to doing — “caring and worrying about you every day, even though you were independent,” like a parent.

The roles had reversed. And, she said, the nurturing became treasured time.

Grandson Michael (Chandler) West was grateful for having had a grandfather like Chum, with a special brand of gusto that caused him to insist that his girlfriend Dana’s name was Donna, because, when corrected, “Dana, Donna … same thing,” was the only answer he got. Until Dana turned the tables on him.

And, Michael said, Pop-Pop turned out to be one of the funniest people Dana ever met.

“Turn that s**t down!” he imitated, remembering Pop-Pop knocking on his brother Chandler’s wall when the video games started to sound like bad, newfangled rock music to him.

Ever so lively, Michael said he wasn’t used to seeing his grandfather so calm.

Before he died, he was sleeping. It was quiet and dark. Michael just wanted to spend some time with his grandfather, “even if you weren’t awake.

“But what did I see? As I turned around the corner and entered the dark room with the lights turned off, I see something I haven’t seen for a few weeks now. I see this white flash moving back and forth. It’s none other than you scratching that ‘damn itch’ on your damn head that you ‘almost damn near got’ for the past five or six years!”

He got it. His family got it. His friends got it. The community got it. There’s no more head-scratching for Warren “Chum” Chandler.

The 89-year-old father to seven, grandfather to 15 and great-grandpa to three, with one one the way, was laid to rest on Monday at B.G. William Doyle Veterans Cemetery, Arneytown, N.J.

But those he left behind will keep itching to fulfill a legacy like his.

RIP, Warren “Chum” Chandler. We’re scratching.

Fair Haven Police Beat: Fugitive from Justice Arrested, $100K Bail

Fair Haven police reported the following incidents and arrests for the month of February. An arrest does not constitute a conviction.


• Sheikh Bilal, 50, of Jersey City, was arrested on Feb. 10 following a motor vehicle stop when an active full extradition warrant out of Louisiana was found to be on file.

The Louisiana warrant was based on charges that included two felony counts of worthless checks. Bilal was charged with being a fugitive from justice.

The arrest was made by Special Officer Brooks Robinson. Bail was set at $100,000 with no 10 percent option.

Bilal was transported to Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold to await extradition to Louisiana to face his previous charges (according to the warrant).

• Garry Vandemark II, 32, of Atlantic Highlands was arrested following a motor vehicle stop on Feb. 6 and charged with driving while suspended, unlawful possession of a weapon and obstruction by Special Officer Brooks Robinson.

He was released pending a Fair Haven court appearance.

• Ryan Marchese, of Red Bank, was arrested on Feb. 28 following a traffic stop on an active warrant out of Middletown for his arrest.

He was released after posting bail. Special Officer Brooks Robinson made the arrest.


• A Linden Drive resident reported on Feb. 6 that someone had filed a fraudulent 2014 tax return in his name.

Patrolman John Koetzner is investigating.

• A River Road business reported on Feb. 9 that someone had broken a window in the front of her store.

Cpl. John Waltz took the criminal mischief report.

• A Gillespie Avenue resident reported on Feb. 11 that they had video surveillance of an unknown male trespassing on their property.

Detective Stephen Schneider investigated and identified the trespasser as a juvenile.

The case has been forwarded to Juvenile Officer Patrolman William Lagrotteria for review.

• A Highland Avenue resident reported on Feb. 16 that someone attempted to file a fraudulent tax return in her name.

Detective Stephen Schneider took the report and is investigating.

• An Oxford Avenue resident reported on Feb. 24 that there were fraudulent charges on her debit card.

Patrolman Dwayne Reevey took the report and is investigating.


St. George’s-by-the-River Goes to the Dogs … and a Hamster


By Elaine Van Develde

You could say that the Saturday’s pet-friendly church service at Rumson’s St. George’s-by-the River Episcopal Church was a howling — perhaps hamster-ease squeaking — success.

It wasn’t “ruff” to see that the estimated 35 or so dogs and one hamster (aptly named Hamstee) enjoyed the first of now monthly bring-your-pet worship time.

There was a lot of tail wagging, happy woofing and kisses for the reverends with blessings. And on the way out, the good church-goers got homemade treats.

To ask Rev. Ophelia Laughlin, rector, and Rev. Jeff Roy, assistant rector, is to hear that they feel blessed themselves to welcome the animals to church on a regular basis.

“We’ve held the blessings of the animals and continue to do so regularly, and when they come to church now they can also be blessed, but we think it is just so nice to have the animals here for services,” Rev. Laughlin said after the service. “We keep it short and it’s very casual. Even if you don’t have an animal to bring and enjoy them, we welcome you. Please join us.”

Reverends Laughlin and Roy hung around a bit afterwards, just like with animal-free services, to bond, administer some blessings and make sure the pets got their “thank you for joining us” treats.

There were lots of smiles and a lot of tail wagging and licks — taken as a four-legged show of approval by animal parents. And, yes, the hamster seemed to stand on its hind legs for a high five on the wheel.

“My little girl sat quietly on the bench and took it all in. I enjoyed the reverend’s sermon,” said Elissa DeRogatis Stroby, who brought her dog Scrabble from Long Branch. “One of her stories really hit home. A quote from her story: ‘We are all just visitors here, even our four legged, two legged, or no leg animal friends.’ Something well said that was meant to ease the pain of loss. Since it was all pets and owners, the sermon was brief, the mass was brief. They took into consideration the restlessness of animals. I think I would like to go to a regular mass there sometime soon.”

The next pet-friendly service is April 11, and every second Saturday of each month thereafter at 5 p.m.. All pets are welcome. Dogs must be leashed and all others must be contained.

Take a look at the above slideshow for a glimpse into the event. Oh, and be sure to click on the icon in the lower right corner to enlarge! Enjoy!

Photos and slideshow/Elaine Van Develde

Crime, Arrests Close By: Theft, Heroin Possession & More

The following arrests and incident reports were recently reported by the Red Bank police. An arrest does not constitute a conviction.


• An alleged Jan. 31 theft at the Red Bank Train Station was reported on March 8. The victim told police that on Jan. 31, while exiting the train, he left his backpack, containing a mini iPad, a MacBook Pro computer, computer charger and adapter and clothing. The victim said that he had initially notified NJ Transit, but nothing was ever recovered.

Lt. Robert Kennedy took the report.


• Rahsaan Riddick, 21, of Long Branch, was arrested by Patrolman Benjamin Springer on March 10 in the area of Catherine Street and charged with resisting arrest, obstructing the administration of the law and disorderly conduct.

• Jeffrey Bogart, 40, of Red Bank, was arrested by Patrolman Sean Hauschildt on March 8 in the area of Monmouth Street and charged with: possession of heroin, a controlled dangerous substance (CDS); possession of drug paraphernalia; and resisting arrest.

• Andrew Fitzpatrick, 23, of Shrewsbury, was arrested by Sgt. David Hicks on March 8 in the area of W. Bergen Place and charged with: driving while intoxicated (DWI); possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), under 50 grams of marijuana; and possession of drug paraphernalia.