Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this March 2018

Let’s spring into March with a little bit of luck and have some fun with family and friends! Check out the list below of local (free or inexpensive) activities to do with your loved ones all month long.

March 3 and All Weekends until March 25: Ragtime the musical at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal. Saturday performances begin at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. March 17 will feature two performances at 2pm and 8pm. For more information call 732-531-9106 or click here to purchase tickets online.

March 4: Belmar St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at 12:30pm on Main Street. This is one of NJ’s largest St. Patty’s events – don’t miss it! Learn more at or call 732-280-2648.

March 10: Ocean County’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place in Seaside at noon. The luck of the Irish is bound to smile upon you. Join the enthusiastic crowds on the Boulevard for a fun-filled Irish parade with bands, floats, and marchers, and a street celebration where everyone is Irish. Visit  for more information or call 848-480-3990.

March 10-11: Chocolate lovers’ weekend in Ocean Grove begins at 10am on Saturday. All events begin at the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce office. On Saturday the hunt for hearts takes place between 10am-4pm and there is a tour of the historic inn’s at Ocean Grove from 11am-4pm. Participating restaurants will also feature special chocolate lovers’ dinners. On Sunday there is a winter walk from 12-3pm. For details call 732-774-1391 or go to

March 11: Belmar Restaurant Tour from noon-4:30pm. Sample the fine cuisine of local Belmar restaurants in downtown Belmar. Learn more by calling 732-681-3700 ext.214 or go to

Asbury Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Starting at 1pm on March 11th, there will be marching bands, antique cars, floats and more. The parade runs from waterfront to Main St. Call 732-775-7676 for information or go to

March 17: St. Patty’s Day Festival at Laurita Winery in New Egypt from 12-8pm. Come celebrate a weekend where everyone is Irish, with Irish food, dancing and music! Admission fee is $5 for ages 21 and older. Go to  to learn more or call 609-758-8000.

March 22-25: Annual Garden State  Film Festival in Asbury Park. Come see the best independent films in the Garden State! Times vary. Call 732-359-6467 or visit to learn more.

March 25: Jenkinson’s Egg Hunt in Pt. Pleasant Beach begins at 1pm. The event takes place rain or shine. This is a free event that adds some spring family fun! Learn more at or call 732-892-0600.

March 26: Early Spring Sunset Photowalk at the Belmar Marina. This is a free event! The photowalk takes place between 6:30-8:30pm. Call 732-245-6699 or go to

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this February 2018

Love is in the air – and there’s so much to love this February with a ton of fantastic events happening in a town near you. Check out the list below of free or inexpensive activities to do with your loved ones all month long.

February 3-4: Turtle Feeding at Cattus Island County Park (Toms River) at 1:30pm. Are you curious about the habits and habitats of turtles? Join a park naturalist as they demonstrate the feeding and care of these native reptiles. Cost is free. Call 732-270-6960 or go to

February 8-11: Deep Cut Gardens Orchid Society Show and Sale (Holmdel).  The event is being held at Dearborn Market, 2170 Route 35 South.  Judging is being held on February 8, 2018 at 8:30 AM. Find vendors of orchid plants, seedlings, supplies, greenhouses, fertilizers, watering equipment, potting mixes, lighting setups and other orchid-related products. Or just come enjoy the beauty of these amazing flowers! Learn more here, or call 732-828-7727.

February 10: A Valentine’s Doo-Wop Show at Count Basie Theater (Red Bank). Don’t miss this great event featuring six different Doo-Wop legends and hosted by Cool Bobby B of Sirius XM 50s on 5, at 7pm. Purchase your tickets here or call 732-842-9000.

February 11: Valentine’s Dinner Show with the Jersey Four at iPlay America (Freehold). Celebrate with the ones you love by seeing The Jersey Four: A Tribute the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at 5:30pm. Dance the night away as the cast takes you on a journey from the very beginning of the Four Seasons, to their number 1 hits, Frankie Valli’s solo career and to present day shows! This is a true tribute to The Four Seasons and the show will include trivia, narratives, and humor – all while encouraging the audience to sing along! Learn more here or call 732-577-8200.

February 17-18: Auto Racing in NJ (Vintage Automobile Museum, Bay Avenue in Point Pleasant) from 10am-4pm and noon to 4pm on Sunday, 2/18. The Vintage Automobile Museum will feature a display of vintage racing cars that plied the tracks of New Jersey. Featured are modified and sportsman class stock cars that raced on dirt and asphalt. There are also midgets, 3/4 midgets and factory stock dragsters. In addition, there is an eclectic display of automobilia, children’s riding toys, die-cast cars, models, vintage auto service equipment and a host of period antiques. Admission is free, however donations are welcome. Call 732-889-0012 or go to for information.

February 23-25: Ocean Grove’s Girlfriends Getaway Weekend. Join a weekend festival dedicated to celebrating women! Relax and have fun, shop, get pampered, dine, and more. There are many participating hotels offering discounted rates and specials. Learn more here or call 732-774-1391.

February 24: Annual Polar Bear Plunge at 1pm in front of Spicy Cantina in Seaside Heights. Registration begins at 9am. This is a fundraiser for NJ’s Special Olympics. For more info call 609-896-8000 or go to All participants must be registered by February 21.

February 24-25: Mardi Gras at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Come celebrate Mardi Gras at Laurita Winery with amazing bands and authentic New Orleans food. Don’t miss this great celebration! Free general admission. Call 609-758-8000 or go to for details.

February 25: Highlands Annual Chili Cook Off from 3-7pm at the Inlet Café on Cornwall Street. This is a fundraiser for the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Your $30 donation includes chili tasting, two beer tickets, and ballots. For more information call 732-291-4713 or click here.


Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this January 2018

Happy 2018! We’re ready to kick off the new year with some wallet-friendly activities for your family and friends. So, break out that new calendar and pencil in these dates for some free or inexpensive events happening in a town near you this month.

January 14: Goldfish Swim School Grand Opening (Middletown). Fun for the whole family from 2-5pm! In addition to open family swim, there will be a balloon artist, arts & crafts, raffles, refreshments, and much more! This event is FREE and all are welcome. Learn more here.

January 21: See your favorite Marvel superheroes in action at iPlay America in Freehold at 11am! Watch Loki get revenge on the Avengers by casting a spell on Captain America to team up against Thor and the rest of the heroes. But there is a twist – they might not be able to conquer this mission without the help of the audience. Come help the Avengers rescue Captain America and defeat Loki. Buy tickets online here, or call 732-577-8200.

Jersey Shore Winter Comic Book Show at Toms River Elks. The event takes place from 10am – 4pm and different vendors, artists, writers, and costume groups will be present. $5 admission. Learn more at or call 609-242-7756.

January 22: Taste of Long Branch from 5:30-8:30pm at Rooney’s Oceanfront Restaurant. There will be 16 restaurants preparing food and desserts and there will also be a cash bar. Tickets are $50 each. The event will be benefitting the Kay Guadagno Memorial Award & Scholarship Fund at Monmouth Medical Center. Register online here, or call 732-222-0400.

January 27: Winterfest at Thompson Park in Lincroft from 12-4pm. Celebrate winter with the whole family! There will be Cross-Country Skiing, Hands-On Activities, Wagon Rides, Arts & Crafts, Photo Opportunities, Living History Displays, Winter Sports Vendors, Food Vendors and more. Free admission and free parking. Learn more here, or call 732-842-4000 ext. 4312.

Winery Winterfest on January 27th and 28th from 11am to 8pm at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Bring the family and join the outdoor fun, featuring ice sculptures, a luge for all ages, food trucks and many family activities! $8 for adults 21+ and $5 for those ages 4-20. Call 609-758-8000 or visit

January 28: Annual Beef and Brew in The Highlands from 3-7pm. Proceeds will benefit the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Enjoy a buffet and refreshments at Off the Hook on Route 36. Get more details here, or call 732-291-4713.

We hope you have a happy and healthy new year!

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this December 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  With so many joyful and festive events happening this month, it’s definitely going to be hard to choose which ones to attend. Enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends – check out the many free or inexpensive activities happening this December in a town near you.  Happy Holidays from all of us at First Financial, and wishing you a prosperous 2018!

December 1: Town Tree Lighting and Candy Cane Hunt in Manasquan. From 6-8pm join Manasquan’s tree lighting, caroling, music, candy cane hunt, and a visit from Santa! The event takes place in the business district. Learn more here or call 732-223-8303.

December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16: Christmas Lantern Tours, Allaire Village in Farmingdale. The weather is cold, but the scent of Christmas is in the air! Come celebrate the holidays with a stroll through Allaire’s lantern lit village, and learn about Christmas in 1836! Music, history and a little bit of theater, the Historic Village at Allaire should be your new (or continuing) Holiday Tradition. Advance Purchase Recommended. 90 minute tours leave every 15 minutes.  For details call 732-919-3500 or click here.

December 2: Spring Lake Candlelight Christmas Inn Tour. From 3:30-7pm, tour Spring Lake’s famous inn’s and B&B’s decorated in holiday splendor.  Learn more here, or call 732-449-0577.

A Christmas Carol at Grunin Center for the Arts, OCC (Toms River). Starting at 1pm, this musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the timeless tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who hates Christmas. Shocked into action by visits from three ghosts that take him on a journey to the past, present, and the future; Scrooge discovers the true meaning of Christmas. The music and dancing of A Christmas Carol will help put everyone in the holiday spirit! Adults are $12, kids $10. Go to or call 732-255-0500.

December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17: Garden State Central Model Railroad Club’s InfoAge Holiday Spectacular (Wall). Come see operating train layouts and displays. Santa will be there too! Noon to 5pm, adults are $7 and kids are $3. Admit one free adult when you bring a new, unwrapped toy. Learn more at or call 732-801-8054.

December 5: Downtown Freehold Tree Lighting. From 5-7pm, join in the town tree lighting at the Hall of Records. Learn about other Freehold holiday events such as breakfast with Santa, the Santa train, and caroling here or call 732-333-0094.

December 6: Ocean County Tree Lighting at the Ocean County Administration Building (Toms River). Starting at 4:45pm, celebrate with the Ocean County Freeholders and music by the Silver Bay Elementary School chorus, light refreshments will be provided. Learn more at or call 732-929-2000.

December 9: Free Santa Photos at all First Financial Locations (Toms River, Neptune, Howell/Freehold). Sit with Santa from 9am-12pm! Each participating child will receive a free 4×6 photo in the mail, as well as the original image file will be sent to each parent/guardian. Register at your nearest branch here, or call 732-312-1500.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus in Pt. Pleasant from 2-5pm! Free Gifts, great train display and holiday cookies and hot chocolate. The event takes place at the Pt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce at River Road and Maxson Ave. Get details at or call 732-295-8850.

December 9 and 10: Ocean Grove Victorian Holiday House and Inn Tour. Visit the inns and homes of Ocean Grove with a complimentary jitney around town, see the holiday bell ringers, tree lighting and caroling too. Get more details here, or call 732-774-1391.

December 16 and 17: Visit with Santa at Longstreet Farm (Holmdel). From 12-3pm, come to Longstreet Farm and enjoy an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas. Children can visit with Santa, then take a walk to the farmhouse and have a cup of cider. Be sure to bring your camera! For information, click here or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

December 22 and 23: American Repertory Ballet presents The Nutcracker in Deal Park. At 2pm and 7pm, attend this beloved classic with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, thrilling choreography and a cast of more than 100 at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center. Buy tickets at or call 732-531-9106.



2017 Holiday Toy and Gift Drive in All First Financial Branches

Holiday Greetings to all of our First Scoop Readers!

As we continue into the 2017 holiday season, First Financial will be partnering with local non-profit organizations to help families in need within Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Each branch will be holding a holiday toy and gift drive through December 2017:

Please click on the links above for more details. These gifts will be picked up at all First Financial locations on the dates listed above – so please be sure to return your gifts to your nearest branch before this date.

We are also continuing to collect non-perishable food items at each branch location until December 30th. Click here for more details.

Help brighten someone’s holiday this season and thank you for your continued support!

2017 Holiday Food Collection in all First Financial Branches

It’s the month of giving thanks, and all First Financial branch locations will be collecting non-perishable food items throughout the remainder of this year.

As we approach the 2017 holiday season, First Financial will be partnering with local non-profit organizations to help families in need within Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Our First Financial branches will serve as collection sites for non-perishable food items that will then be donated to the following non-profit organizations:

Toms River Branch: The People’s Pantry

    • The People’s Pantry is in need of cereal, soup, jelly, canned vegetables, and hygiene products for the 2017 holiday season.

Freehold/Howell Branch: Freehold Open Door Pantry

  • Open Door Pantry is requesting canned vegetable soups, pasta, tomato and pasta sauces, peanut butter and jelly, canned meat, canned tuna fish, canned fruit and fruit juices, rice, powdered milk, cereal, jarred baby food, baby formula, cake mix, pudding, salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, pancake mix, and syrup.

Neptune Branch: Lunchbreak

  • Lunchbreak is requesting bottled water, juice, iced tea, rice, beans, pasta, oats, paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, diapers, snacks (pretzels, crackers, chips), baby formula, canned goods, soups, nuts, peanut butter and jelly, ketchup, mustard, cereal, granola bars, and boxed cake mix.
  • Lunchbreak is also collecting new or gently used clothing items: business casual attire, casual clothing for any season, plus sized clothing, baby/infant clothes, special occasion items, shoes, jewelry, and handbags.

Click on the links above to learn more about what each organization is requesting this year. Your donations can be dropped off at any First Financial branch location during business hours.

Please note that the final day for food collection at all branches will be on Saturday, December 30, 2017.

 Help brighten someone’s holiday this season and thank you for your continued support!