Category Archives: Local Life

A look, in photos, of latest area events, local everyday people and places.

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.


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 [email protected].

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

Going Retro with Fair Haven’s Chum & Bette Chandler

Fair Haven’s Chum and Bette Chandler on their wedding day Photo/courtesy of Carol Chandler-West


Today and tomorrow are the days Fair Havenites are spending saying goodbye to lifetime resident Chum Chandler, who was also a 65-year member of the Fair Haven Volunteer Fire Company.

So, we felt it only fitting to honor Chum and his wife Bette, who predeceased him in 1996, in today’s Retro Pic of the Day.

The two were married on Sept. 25, 1955, daughter Carol Chandler-West said in a Facebook post.

“I was blessed with two special parents, and for giving me a wonderful life,” she said. “God Bless!!!”

RIP, Chum and Bette Chandler.

R-FH Area Weekend: Church-Going Pets, Chum Chandler & Godspell

The upcoming weekend in the Rumson-Fair Haven area is all about pets getting religion, a goodbye to a community icon and some classic musical theater entertainment.

Starting on Friday night …

• It’s show time for an old favorite musical Godspell, a production by Monmouth Players at the old Navesink Library, the longtime community theater company’s home base.

Curtain is 8:15 p.m. this evening as well as Saturday and March 20.
There are Sunday matinees this weekend, on March 15, and on March 22 at 2 p.m.

Click here for more information.

On Saturday …

• It’s time for a sad goodbye, yet joyous celebration of the life of lifetime Fair Havenite Chum Chandler.

All are welcome to attend this celebration of the community icon and 65-year member of the Fair Haven Fire Department on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Fair Haven Firehouse on River Road.

Click here for Chum’s obituary.

• And at 5 p.m., St. George’s-by-the-River Episcopal Church at 7 Lincoln Avenue in Rumson is holding its first pet-friendly, hour-long service.

All are invited to bring their pets to church. Dogs must be leashed and all other animals must be contained.

The service kicks off a new monthly tradition at the church.

Click here for more information. 

Let us know if we’ve left anything out (at [email protected]) and have a happy, healthy weekend, all! See you around the towns!

Going Retro with Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade Emcee

JoAnn Pileggi a couple of years ago heading toward the Fair Haven dock.  Photo/Elaine Van Develde
JoAnn Pileggi a couple of years ago heading toward the Fair Haven dock.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

The third annual Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade was Sunday. And there were many familiar faces marching and on the grandstand.

One, in particular, on the grandstand for all three years of the new parade tradition, was emcee JoAnn Pileggi.

Pileggi, a TV journalist for NYC’s Fox 5 News and FOX 29philly, is a Fair Haven resident who is married to RFH grad T.J. Foderaro, a longtime journalist who comes from a long line of journalists.

A couple of years ago, this photo of Pileggi was taken as the Fair Haven resident was headed to a concert on the Fair Haven Dock with her children.

Do you know JoAnn?


Retro Hanging on a Fire Truck

Bill Van Develde rides a Fair Haven fire truck circa early 1970s. Photo/Van Develde family
Bill Van Develde rides a Fair Haven fire truck circa early 1970s.
Photo/Van Develde family

In light of the pending purchase of a new fire truck for the Fair Haven Fire Department, our Retro Pic of the Day offers a look back at an oldie.

New transport rules mandate that firemen can no longer ride hanging on the the back or sides of a truck.

But, there was a lot of that, like an indelible stereotypical snapshot, back in the day. Times have changed, but the dedication of the local volunteer firefighter, from generation to generation, has not.

In this photo, circa early 1970s, the guys are rolling out for a parade. They are in the back of the firehouse in their dress uniforms.

The guy hanging on the outside of the truck is none other than this editor’s dad, Bill Van Develde, a life member of the fire company and former captain of the Fair Haven Fire Police.

Did you know that the rules for riding on the outside of a fire truck had changed? Who’s inside the cab? And which truck is this? The Mack?



High Steppin’ into Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2015

There was a wee bit of a chill in the air, but spirits were warm and bright on Sunday at the third annual Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Thousands lined East River Road to take festive trip to St. Paddy’s Day nine days early via hundreds of paraders.

Take a look at the above slideshow for a glimpse into Rumson’s new tradition.

Don’t forget to click on the icon in the bottom right corner to enlarge for a full view!

Mangia! Spaghetti Dinner Served!

It’s comfort food and company for the soul — the annual Fair Haven Volunteer Fire Company’s Spaghetti Dinner.

The trek up those steps at the firehouse sets off a surge of soothing memories for any longtime Fair Havenite. The smell of sauce simmering on the stove, the familiar sound of a banquet room full of friends, the sight of the good ladies of the auxiliary serving meals and the kitchen … oh, the kitchen, where the guys who made the spaghetti and meatballs keep things cooking.

Then there’s Angelo, meatball master supreme. He watches over everything and keeps it all good.

Take a look at our slideshow above to get a glimpse into the evening and all things fine at the firehouse. Mangia!

Oh, and don’t forget to click the icon on the bottom right of the slideshow to enlarge it and get a full view!

Going Retro With a Taste of Italy & a Fair Lady


For our special treat today, in honor of all things Italian style and to honor the Fair Haven Volunteer Fire Company Spaghetti Dinner, we take you back to a minute with the fire company’s own fair Italian lady, Jeanette Choma.

Jeanette has been working at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, well, forever. She loves working in the Grab Bag Booth and selling those balloons.

And, she will tell you in a heartbeat that she’s been at the fair for “50 YEARS!”

Watch what happens when we ask her about her age in this outtake clip above.