Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this May 2015

family-spring-gardenIt’s finally time to enjoy the outdoors and all that the warm weather has to offer! During the spring and summer, it’s a great idea to visit your local parks and enjoy a bike ride, a family hike, play basketball or even a have a quaint family picnic! It’s free, fun and a great way to stay active and get some fresh air. Check out some more free or inexpensive activities below that you can enjoy this month with your family and friends.

Friday, May 1: First Financial is hosting a Bake Sale & FREE Shred Event at the Freehold/Howell Service Center (389 Route 9 North, Freehold) for Grand Opening Week! Between 9am-11am, bring your items to be shredded by AutoShred. *Limit 5 boxes/bags per person. What can be shredded? Mixed office paper, papers with staples/paperclips, papers with small binder clips and rubberbands. What cannot be shredded? Magazines/newspapers, hardcover books, 3 ring binders, x-rays/MRIs, wet, damp, or mildewed paper. This is a free service, open to the public, and don’t forget to stop in and check out our newest branch location! For more information, call 866.750.0100.



Saturday, May 2: Head on over to First Financial’s new Freehold/Howell Service Center (Freehold) for a free Grand Opening Family Picnic from 10am-1pm! Bring the whole family to enjoy music, food by Vito’s Hot Dogs and Farley’s Ice Cream, cotton candy, popcorn, games, facepainting, palm readings, special visits from the Howell Police Department, Adelphia Fire Department, blood pressure screenings from the Farmingdale Howell First Aid Squad, and more. For more information, call 866.750.0100.

Saturday, May 2 – Sunday, May 3: Enjoy a Weekend in Old Monmouth (Freehold)! This is an annual two-day event when more than 40 of the Monmouth County history sites open their doors to visitors and waive their admission fees. Please note that a Weekend in Old Monmouth is a self-guided tour, it is encouraged to visit the link above for a printable or online map of the historic sites/locations. The event will take place on Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday from 12pm-5pm. For more information, call 732-431-7460 ext. 7413.

Saturday, May 9: It’s Opening Day at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport)! Enjoy FREE grandstand admission and celebrate the return of everyone’s favorite summertime destination. Come take your picture next our 2015 commemorative sandcastle and enter to win one of 100 VIP season and parking passes for the 2015 season. Gates open at 11:30am and the first race is 12:50pm. For more information, call 732-222-5100.

Saturday, May 9 – Sunday, May 17: Shrek The Musical is coming to Algonquin Arts Theatre (Manasquan)! Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek The Musical is a TONY Award-winning fairy tale adventure featuring all new songs from Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline or Change) and a sidesplitting book by David Lindsay-Abaire. Shrek brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage, and proves there’s more to the story than meets the ears, a perfect family outing. For showtimes and tickets, visit the link above or call 732-528-9211.

Saturday, May 9 – Sunday, May 10: Spend some quality time with Mom and Grandma in the vineyard, at 4JG’s Winery (Colts Neck) this Mother’s Day! Join us with Mom and Grandma for a fun day of chocolate demonstrations and wine tastings. Stop by between 12pm-5pm on both days. For more information, call 908-930-8066.

Saturday, May 16: Head on down to Spring Lake’s Irish Festival! From 12pm-4pm, enjoy an Irish soda bread contest, Irish step dancers, live music, food, activities, photo booth, and so much more! You’ll also be able to meet Ray Lucas from the NY Jets and Jeff Feagles, former NY Giants Punter. For more information, call 732-449-0577.

Saturday, May 23 – Monday, May 25: The Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival is back at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport)! Over three dozen of the areas best food trucks will converge at Monmouth Park for three days of amazing food, family fun, and world-class racing. Enjoy unique varieties of plates including fried bacon, mouth-watering empanadas, juicy cheesesteaks, decadent cupcakes, ocean-fresh lobster rolls, Belgian waffle sundaes, and so much more – there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone! So bring the family, bring the friends, come one day or all three. You won’t want to miss the most delicious summer kick-off party at the Jersey Shore! For more information, call 732-222-5100.

Memorial Day Celebrations:

Friday, May 29 – Sunday, May 31: Red Bank River Fest is back and better than ever! The festival will once again showcase talented local bands performing simultaneously on multiple stages capped by appearances of nationally known blues and jazz artists. Attendees will also be able to enjoy food, vendors, and crafters. For more information, call 732-741-0055.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this April 2015

family-picnic-springSpring is finally here! Time to enjoy the fresh flowers, warm weather, and great outdoor activities. Check out all of the fun events we have listed below – many of them are free or very inexpensive that you and your family and friends can enjoy this month. As always, we welcome you to post a comment with your feedback, we’d love to hear how you liked any of the events we posted!

Saturday, April 4: Visit Allaire Village (Farmingdale) for an Easter Egg Hunt in the Village from 12pm-4pm! The handmade Easter Bonnet Parade (with prizes) will be held at 3pm. There is a limited supply, please purchase tickets in advance – just $5 per person, children under 3 are FREE. All of the historic buildings are now open for the season! For more information, call 732-919-3500.

Sunday, April 5: Get dressed up in your Sunday best and stroll the boardwalk at our legendary celebration – the 2015 Asbury Park Easter Parade! This will be the parade’s 80th Anniversary and will be held from 1pm-3pm. The parade features men, women, boys and girls all competing to be judged the best dressed for trophies and prizes from local merchants and restaurants. For more information, call 732-502-5752.

Saturday, April 11 & Sunday, April 12: The Company of Dance Arts is pleased to present their original version of Cinderella, which was performed for the first time in the spring of 2012. Set to Sergei Prokofiev’s stirring score, this classic tale of rags to riches comes alive onstage. Audience members of all ages will enjoy this ballet and the beautiful choreography, costumes and staging. In addition to the classical touches, this ballet includes many comedic moments featuring the hilarious Step Mother and Step Sisters! The show will be held at Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank) and tickets start at just $20 a person. For more information, call 732-842-9000.

Thursday, April 16: Join Salt Creek Grille (Rumson) for their 12th Annual Wine & Martini Tasting to benefit the Kortney Rose Foundation. Enjoy an evening of wine vendors, hors d’oeuvres, pasta stations, live jazz music and so much more. The event starts at 7pm – a great date night or girls’ night out! For more information, call 732-933-9272.

Thursday, April 23: Are you a small business owner looking to get noticed on social media? Join First Financial along with Social Media Expert, Deborah Smith, for our “Paid Social Media Ad Campaigns for Business” Seminar. The event will be held at our Wall Office at 8:30am for networking and light breakfast followed by the seminar promptly at 9am. Space and time is limited, reserve your seat today! For more information, call us at 866.750.0100.

Saturday, April 25: It’s the Great Spring Perennial Plant Swap at Deep Cut Gardens (Middletown)! Bring plants in one-quart, one-gallon, or two-gallon containers to the park and take home the same size and number of plants. It is asked to please label all plants prior to the event. Herb and vegetable seedlings may also be exchanged, but invasive plants will not be accepted; a list of such plants and further information is available at Please Note: To allow for plant inspection as per N.J. Department of Agriculture regulations, plant intake will be from 8-10 a.m., with no plants accepted after 10 a.m. Plants may be selected and taken from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call 732-671-6050.

Bring your “furry” family members to the Monmouth County SPCA’s 21st Annual Dog Walk and Pet Fair! Join over 2,000 people and their pets and enjoy shopping vendors, live music, raffles, doggie costume contests and much more. The event will be held at Brookdale Community College (Lincroft) from 10am-3pm. For more information, call 732-440-1558.

Sunday, April 26 (Rain date May 3): You don’t want to miss Red Bank’s International Flavour Festival! From noon-7pm, enjoy 25 of Red Banks finest restaurants who will be cooking up international favorites including Korean, Thai, Italian, Chinese, American, Mexican, Irish and more. There will also be international beers and wines from various countries. Bring the entire family to this unbelievable fundraising event – proceeds will benefit the Red Bank River Center, Parker Family Health Center, and Monmouth Day Care. For more information, call 732-829-1104.

Happy Spring!

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this March 2015

family-baking-300x200Hang in there! Spring is almost here and we’re just as excited as you are to be able to finally get outside and break free of hibernation. As always, we’ve come up with a list of free or inexpensive activities that you and your family and friends can enjoy in a town near you.

St. Patrick’s Day Parades:

Wednesday, March 4: This is your chance to see if a pottery class is right for you! Bring your friends or family members to the Pottery Open House at the Thompson Park Creative Arts Center (Lincroft) where you will sample some hand building techniques and try your luck at the potter’s wheel. This free event will take place from 4pm-8pm and is open to ages 7 and up, those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 732-842-4000.

Saturday, March 7: Let it go with Elsa, Anna, Olaf and more at the Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank) with the Sing-Along Version of Frozen! Anna, a fearless optimist, sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven – to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Get your tickets today – showtimes at 11am, 2:30pm and 5pm. For more information, call 732-842-9000.

Sunday, March 8: Head on down to the Bradley Beach Library for the 10th Annual Art Exhibit and Wine Tasting Event! You can see beautiful artwork, sample wines and treats, enjoy music from the Festive Flutes and chat with your neighbors from 2pm-4pm. For more information, call 732-869-1020.

Enjoy the tastes of the shore at the 7th Annual Belmar Restaurant Tour! The event will take place from noon to 4:30pm – tickets can be purchased in advance for just $30.00 at Brandl, Mr. Shrimp & 10th Ave. Burrito. Tickets will be $35.00 the day of event at Brandl located at 703 Belmar Plaza. Click the link above for the full list of participating restaurants. For more information, call 732-681-3700.

It’s Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 8 – don’t forget to turn those clocks ahead at 2:00am!

Friday, March 13: Celebrate the luck of the Irish at The Nerd’s St. Patrick’s Day Party presented by NJ 101.5! The event will be held at iPlay America (Freehold) and is open to those 21 and older only. Tickets start at just $10 and you’ll enjoy contests, prizes and so much more! For more information, call 732-577-8200.

Wednesday, March 18-Thursday, March 19: It’s Irish Week at the Flavor of Freehold Event! Come out and experience some of Downtown Freehold’s most loved restaurants and shops. The event will take place from 5:30pm-8pm and tickets are just $10.00 per person (cash only). For more information, call 732-333-0094.

Sunday, March 22: Make Red Bank your ultimate destination for all things wedding at the 2015 Red Bank Wedding Walk. Find your photographer, choose your ring, smell your roses, get fitted for your dress and enjoy a tasting at one of their award winning venues. The one-day event is a free and introduces brides, grooms, partners, wedding attendants and their families to Red Bank as the one-stop shopping destination for weddings. Several grand prize packages will be raffled at the conclusion of the Wedding Walk. For more information, call 732-842-4244.

Head on over to Bradley Beach, for their 2015 Restaurant Tour! Enjoy delicious tastings from restaurants all over town from 11am-3pm presented by the Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Borough of Bradley Beach. Tickets are being sold at Borough Hall, D’Arcy’s, and The Ground Round. For more information, call 732-776-2999.

Sunday, March 29: Enjoy rides and fun while you hunt for Easter eggs at the Keansburg Amusement Park’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt! The event is rain or shine at will take place at 1pm. For more information, call 732-495-1400.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Spring! 

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this February 2015

family-winterEven though it’s winter, it’s time to make your way out of hibernation and have some fun even if there is snow on the ground. It’s the month to celebrate “love,” so grab your loved ones and enjoy some quality time with one another. Check out these free and/or inexpensive activities happening right here in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Tuesday, February 3: Get your finances in order for the new year with our FREE I Bought What?? How to Not Be Afraid When You Open Your Bills and Stick to a Budget,” seminar presented by the experts at First Financial. The seminar will begin at 6pm at First Financial’s Toms River branch – reserve your seat today.

Thursday, February 5: As a business owner, are you looking to understand that despite the explosion of technology, offerings, and competition in the marketplace, you still need to be able to set yourself apart? Look no further – join First Financial for a FREE business seminar, Building Your Business Dreams: Important Financial Planning & Budgeting Basics presented by Jack Gottlieb, President of The Total Solutions Group, LLC. The event will be held at 8:30am at First Finanical’s Wall Office. Register today – space and time is limited.

Sunday, February 8: Looking to plan a vacation in the near future? Head on down to the Vacation Expo at Sickles Market (Little Silver) from 11am-3pm. Sickles Market and Excel Travel have joined together again to host the 2nd Annual Monmouth County Vacation Expo! Held in Sickles’ beautiful greenhouse, the Expo brings to you a range of trusted travel operators under one roof – cruise lines, exotic destinations, yacht charters, adventure holidays, and so much more. For more information, call 732-741-9563.

Saturday, February 14: Plan a romantic evening out with your loved one with vocalist, Chris Pinnella – returning to the Algonquin Theatre (Manasquan) for his most romantic concert to date! Featuring brand new arrangements of some of the most beautiful songs of all time including “When I Fall In Love,” “Hallelujah,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “For Once In My Life,” and more. Join Chris and his 12-piece orchestra of brilliant musicians as he sings songs of love, romance, and being inspired. For more information, call 732-528-9211.

Monday, February 16 – Thursday, February 26: Mark your calendars! February is the time to fine-dine in Red Bank. You don’t want to miss Red Bank Restaurant Week (excludes Friday & Saturday) for $30 prix fixe dining at over 30 of their outstanding restaurants, including many brand new restaurants. Menus include appetizer, entree and dessert. Click the link above to view participating restaurants – please note the post prix fixe menus will be posted closer to the event. For more information, call 732-842-4244.

Thursday, February 19: There are a lot of uncertainties that arise when it comes to buying, selling, or renovating a home. If you’re looking to gain insight on the best way to move forward with your home buying/selling process, we invite you attend First Financial’s FREE It’s a Buyer’s Market! The Key to Getting Your Keys & Close on Your New Home Without the Walls Closing InSeminar, presented by the experts at First Financial as well as Tina Pilot, Realtor-Associate for Re/Max. Space and time is limited – register today!

Sunday, February 22: Do you have a pallet for flavorful chili? Come eat the heat and sample delicious chili at the 3rd Annual Highlands Chili Cook Off at Windansea! The event takes place from 3pm-7pm and tickets include snacks, chili tasting, refreshments and two voting ballots. Two contests will be held: the “Professional” Cook Off at 4pm and the “Ameteur” Cook Off at 5pm. For tickets and more information, call 732-291-4713.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this January 2015

happy-familly-in-winterHappy New Year and welcome to 2015! We’re kicking off this month with a list of some great activities that everyone can enjoy (even in the midst of winter). Break out that new calendar and pencil in these dates for some free or inexpensive events happening in a town near you.

Saturday, January 3: Sing along to the classic 1939 film, Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley and Frank Morgan. Come dressed as your favorite character and be a part of the costume parade on the Count Basie stage (Red Bank). Enjoy an afternoon of fantasy and song on the big screen as we travel with Kansas farm girl Dorothy down the yellow brick road to the magical land of Oz. A fun event for the whole family for just $15 a ticket! For more information, call 732-842-9000.

Friday, January 9 – Sunday, January 11: t’s a new year and now is the time to begin planning that home renovation or home improvement project you’ve dreamed of. Get started at the 25th Annual Jersey Shore Home Show on planning the home of your dreams now at Brookdale Community College (Lincroft)! From basic home improvements and maintenance projects, to major renovations and new construction, the Jersey Shore Home Show can help you find the right home professional to get the job done right as well as save you time and money. Tickets are just $8 for adults, and children 17 and under are FREE! For more information, call 732-449-4004. *Check out the 12th Annual Ocean County Home Show from 1/23-1/25 at Pine Belt Arena (Toms River). Click here for more details.

Saturday, January 10 – Sunday, February 1: Two River Theater (Red Bank) presents Absurd Person Singular, a laugh-out-loud, satirical look at how three English couples deal with their relationships, social standings, and the pressures of three successive Christmas gatherings. During the Broadway run, statisticians counted 504 chuckles, roll-em in the aisles, and belly laughs! Don’t miss this perfect opportunity to unwind from the holiday madness. Various dates and times with tickets starting at just $20 per person. For more information, call 732-345-1400.

Thursday, January 15 – Sunday, January 18: The NJ Repertory Company (Long Branch) presents Swimming at the Ritz for a limited time! Pamela Churchill Hayward Harriman, the ultimate party girl, has been living an idyllic life at the luxurious Ritz in Paris for the past several years accompanied by her young Italian valet, and has been spending her and her stepchildren’s vast inheritance on paintings, clothing, jewels, furs, champagne (her day-to-day necessities). But her stepchildren’s attorneys are about to shut her down. On the verge of losing everything, with the creditors literally at her door, Pamela reveals her journey in a funny, poignant tour-de-force. Times: 1/15 & 1/16 at 8pm, 1/17 at 3pm & 8pm, and 1/18 at 2pm. For more information, call 732-229-3166.

Wednesday, January 21: Do you have your own business and looking to measure your marketing efforts and other investments? Join us at 8:30am at our Wall Headquarters for our FREE “Marketing Analytics and How to Measure ROI for Your Business” seminar, presented by Stephanie Shaffery, President of Flair Marketing Group. Space and time is limited – for more information, call 866-750-0100.

Tuesday, January 27: If you want to get your finances on the right track for the new year, attend our upcoming seminar, “I Bought What? How to Not Be Afraid When You Open Your Bills and Stick to a Budget” at 6pm in Toms River. The event is brought to you by the experts at First Financial – space and time is limited, register today! For more information, call 866-750-0100.

 Wishing you a great 2015!

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this December 2014

Family_readingThe most magical time of the year has arrived! With so many fun and festive events occurring this month, it will be hard to pick just a few. Enjoy this special time of year with all of your family and friends – check out the many free or inexpensive activities happening this month in a town near you.

Tree Lighting Ceremonies:

Friday, December 5 & Friday, December 12: It’s a performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Allaire Chapel (Farmingdale). The production starts at 7:30pm and admission is just $15 per person. Advance ticket purchase recommended – call 732-919-3500 for more information.

Saturday, December 6: Bring the kids to have Breakfast with Santa at Cafe 360 in Downtown Freehold! From 9am-12:30pm, kids can enjoy a great treat while visiting their favorite head elf. Call 732-294-4722 to make your reservations today.

It’s Monmouth County Paper Shredding Day! Monmouth County residents will have an opportunity to get rid of old documents and confidential files safely. Stop by the Wagner Farm Sports Complex at 4 Baird Road, Millstone between 9am-1pm. For more information, call 732-683-8686, ext. 6721.

Thursday, December 11: “Tis the Season: A Holiday Concert,” is an evening of seasonal music of choir, orchestra, and handbells performed in the majestic and festive atmosphere of Wilson Hall at Monmouth University (West Long Branch). The concert is at 7:30pm and conducted by Professor Michael Gillette and Dr. David M. Tripold and features the Colts Neck Reformed Church Exultation Ringers. To purchase tickets and for more information, call 732-683-6889.

Friday, December 12 – Sunday, December 14: Inspired by the classic holiday film, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is performed as a 1940s radio broadcast in front of a live studio audience by the Center Players of Freehold. Featuring onstage Foley sound effects, vintage radio equipment, period costuming and radio commercials, all set to the soothing sounds of your favorite holiday standards. A handful of actors gather on Christmas Eve 1946, to perform the dozens of characters who bring this heart-warming tale to life. Tickets are just $15 a person. For more information, call 732-462-9093.

Saturday, December 13 – Sunday, December 14: American Repertory Ballet brings the magic, beauty, and fantasy of “The Nutcracker” to the stage with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, stunning sets, thrilling choreography, and a massive cast to the Algonquin Arts Theatre (Manasquan). Directed by Company Director Douglas Martin, ARB’s professional company will be joined by students from Princeton Ballet School to tell the story of a young girl and how a mysterious gift brings about enchanted dreams and fantastical scenes. Whether it’s your first time, an annual tradition, or an once-in-a-lifetime experience, ARB’s Nutcracker is a perfect holiday treat for the entire family. Various showtimes and prices available online, call 732-528-9211 for more information.

Saturday, December 14: Meet with Santa for an “Old Fashioned Colts Neck Christmas” and enjoy rich history, hot chocolate, candy canes, and other goodies! There will be a tree lighting ceremony and reading of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” read by Freehold Director, Lillian Burry. This FREE event will take place from 1-4:30pm at the Historic Montrose School, Corner of Cedar Drive & Montrose Road in Colts Neck. For more information, call 732-462-6888.

Friday, December 19 – Saturday, December 20: The classic animated television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” comes to life in this faithful stage adaptation at the Algonquin Arts Theatre (Manasquan) where Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the other Peanuts grapple with the real meaning of Christmas. Enjoy music arrangements that reflect the spirit and mood of Schulz’s work and introduce contemporary jazz to youngsters with grace, charm, and creativity. A Charlie Brown Christmas is a joyous and festive meditation for the holiday season. Various showtimes and prices available online, call 732-528-9211 for more information.

Grab some hot cocoa and popcorn and sit down with the family to enjoy holiday movies all month long! Click here to view the TV schedule for the holiday season.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!