Manasquan & Brielle February 2024

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Manasquan +Brielle

February 2024

FASHION DESIGN

FOR LOCAL KIDS

COOK FOR YOUR HEART

CHEF DARREN MONROE

TAKE A PLUNGE FOR ALS

True Love at Leggett’s

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OUR LAWYERS Who Live At The Jersey Shore Offices in Brielle & Freehold

Eric Lubin

(Commercial & Employment Law)

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Erik Yngstrom

Rich Lomurro

(Workers’ Compensation (Personal Injury & Personal Injury) & Criminal Law)

Rob Hatami

(Personal Injury)

Bettina Munson (Family Law)

Nick Pantages

(Wills and Estates & Real Estate)

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FEBRUARY 2024

Contents

22 14

18 8

10 IN EVE RY ISSU E

28

4

Publisher’s Note FEBRUARY AT THE SHORE

6

Around Town BITE-SIZED UPDATES

8

Home Front COOKING FOR THE HEART

10 Q&A MEET ROMANCE AUTHOR JENNIFER VIDO 28 Wellness Watch BETTER RESOLUTIONS 30 Book Nook SHARE THE LOVE

F E AT U R ES

14 18

32 Photo Op BIG MONDAY

Fashionably Local

Kaitlin Mahony’s fashion-design classes for kids bring big-city style down the shore.

Love at Leggett’s

You can find love at a bar. Just ask Manasquan residents Jen and Kenny Mundie.

22 Ice Cold for a Great Cause

Take a freezing dip at the Valentine Plunge and help fight ALS.

O N T HE COVER

Jen Rego and Kenny Mundie met at Leggett’s in 2010. They’ve been together ever since. PHOTOGRAPH BY FOTO REPUBLIK PHOTOGRAPHY

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PUBLISHER’S NOTE

February at the Shore

PHOTOGRAPH BY ALANA MAHON

friend than a spouse. If that’s the case, reach out and give that person an extra hug on the second Wednesday of February. In this issue, my first as editor, to honor Cupid’s big day we catch up with celebrated author Jennifer Vido, whose memories of growing up in Manasquan inspired her Gull Island romance series. And we bring you the heartwarming love story of Jen and Kenny Mundie, whose whirlwind summer romance began at Leggett’s, crossed the street to The Osprey and outlasted Labor Day to go the ultimate distance. We also profile Kaitlin Mahony, a highly accomplished fashion designer who’s bringing big-city style down the shore and inspiring the fashionistas of tomorrow. Finally, we cover the Valentine Plunge for ALS, an annual tradition that brings participants of all ages into icy-cold winter water, all to benefit two genuinely inspiring foundations. So, whether you’re out in the world braving the winter conditions or staying inside to poke at a well-built and warming fire, we hope that you’ll dig into this issue and discover some of the best that our community has to offer. As always, we welcome your feedback, along with any leftover chocolate.

Welcome to February! An intoxicating juxtaposition of warmth and cold. It’s a month when temperatures drop, heating bills soar and just starting the car sometimes feels like a battle against the elements. It’s also a month for love. If there’s a husband, wife, partner, boyfriend or girlfriend in your life, then consider this your friendly reminder. Make a reservation. Pick up some flowers. Your loved one might claim to be low maintenance, but let’s be honest, you don’t want to be empty-handed on the 14th. Of course, Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love. Love comes in many varieties, including friends, family and community—even pets. Maybe the current love of your life looks more like a best

Christopher Baldi Editor

Manasquan +Brielle MAGAZINE

Editor Christopher Baldi Group Publisher Jodi Bruker Art Director Sue Park Copy Editor Nancy Fass Writers Morgan Mechler Darren Monroe Meghan Schultzel WAINSCOT MEDIA Chairman Carroll V. Dowden President and CEO Mark Dowden VP, Group Publisher, Regional Thomas Flannery VP, Content Strategy Maria Regan Creative Director Kijoo Kim Advertising Services Director Jacquelynn Fischer Operations Director Catherine Rosario Production Designer Chris Ferrante Print Production Manager Fern Meshulam Advertising Production Associate Griff Dowden Manasquan + Brielle magazine is published by Wainscot Media. Serving residents of Manasquan and Brielle, the magazine is distributed monthly via U.S. mail. Articles and advertisements contained herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Copyright 2024 by Wainscot Media LLC. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent.

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WHAT’S NEW

Around Town

WINNING WRESTLER Congratulations to Manasquan’s Dominick Voskian, age 8, who took 2nd place at Toms River’s USA Wrestling Kids Scholastic State Qualifier. Dominick, seen here with his uncle and coach Matt Voskian, will be wrestling at the state championship in Trenton for the third consecutive year!

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UPCOMING EVENTS MISERY ON STAGE February 24 through March 3 Hobble over to Algonquin Arts Theatre’s production of Stephen King’s Misery, originally adapted for the 1990 film starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. A romance novelist finds himself writing for his life after waking up in the home of his deranged “Number One Fan.” It’s a perfect thriller for the dead of winter—but leave the kids at home; this show gives new meaning to the saying “break a leg.”

Actors Pamela Wilterdink, Lex Friedman and Mile D’Altrui with director Gary Shaffer. PHOTO BY CHIP HEPTIG

HARRY POTTER BOOK CLUB Calling all wizards! Brielle Public Library will be holding its Harry Potter Book Club on February 15 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Free attendance for a group discussion on “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” An all-ages event; those under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Muggles welcome!

BOATING CERTIFICATION Manasquan Recreation has teamed with Coast Boating School to offer a boat certification course. This is the approved class for mandatory certification for all individuals (13 and up) to operate a powerboat or personal watercraft. All material is included. For information, email coastboatingschool@gmail.com or call 732-279-0562. Classes will be held on February 11 and March 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Manasquan Community Senior Center. Ages 12 and up.

SLEEP LIKE A PRO! Join integrative wellness coach Jessica Joudrey at Brielle Public Library from 6 to 7 p.m. on February 1 for a deep dive into deep sleep! Learn how to optimize your nightly slumber for maximum health and energy. Attendance is free.

FEBRUARY 2024

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HOME FRONT

Cooking for the Heart This month is a great time to fine-tune your home cooking for better cardiovascular health. BY CHEF DARREN MONROE

’Tis the season for hearts:

Darren Monroe is a local chef who is passionate about healthy eating. He offers cooking classes, farm-to-table dinners and more.

heart-shaped balloons, pizza, jewelry, candy and more. But are you taking care of your actual heart? February is National Heart Month, and there’s never been a better time to show your own heart some love! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, causing one in every five deaths overall. But the CDC also estimates that 80 percent of heart disease is preventable and, as a chef, that statistic fuels my passion for eating healthy. Experts agree that diet and

lifestyle play a huge role in cardiovascular health. Part of my mission as a chef is to empower people to eat better by choosing whole foods and meals prepared with heart-healthy ingredients. In honor of National Heart Month, I’d like to share three food tips that will help you take better care of your ticker, along with one healthy (and delicious!) recipe. Dine In More Often. Not all restaurants are in the health business, which means you’re likely getting more salt, sugar and fat when you dine out than you would at home. Cooking for yourself is the best way to ensure that you’re eating

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HEARTY CHILI This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but they’re all healthy staples, so see it as an opportunity to stock up. Feel free to prep extra vegetables and store them for salad toppings or omelet ingredients. Makes about a gallon of chili. I like making big batches and freezing some for future use. If you prefer less, you can always halve the recipe. INGREDIENTS • 1 onion, diced • 1 jalapeno, diced (seeds included if you like it hot!) • 3 garlic cloves, minced • 1 zucchini, diced • 1 carrot, diced • 1 sweet potato, diced • 1/2 cauliflower, chopped • 1/2 bunch of kale, chopped • 1 red pepper, diced • 1 15 oz can each of chickpeas and black beans, drained and rinsed • 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes • 4-5 cups veggie broth (I prefer Better than Bouillon vegetable base) • 1.5 tbsp. cumin • 1 tbsp. coriander • 1 tbsp. chili powder • Salt and pepper to taste DIRECTIONS 1. Put a large pot on medium-high heat. Once hot, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. 2. Add onions and a pinch of salt and sweat for 2-4 minutes. 3. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for 1-2 minutes. 4. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to incorporate. 5. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft but not too mushy. Notes: Depending on the size of your vegetables, you may need to add some more broth or water, but I like mine extra chunky! Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve with crusty bread, croutons or a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

well, which leads us to the next tip. Learn How to Cook. Knowing how to cook can be empowering, and it’s not that hard! There are plenty of resources online, and taking an inperson cooking class is a fun way to get the ball rolling. Check out my website for my cooking class schedule. Eat More Plants. The jury is in. Unprocessed plant foods are important to staying well. We’re talking vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts. Don’t like vegetables? Find creative ways to incorporate them, like adding spinach to smoothies. Soups are one of the easiest, most delicious and satisfying ways to get more veggies down the hatch. Minestrone, lentil soup and ratatouille are just some examples. As mentioned earlier, homemade is best, but if you buy readymade, choose low-salt options. To get you started, I’m sharing my recipe for Hearty Chili. Chef Darren Monroe hosts farm-to-table dinners and cooking classes throughout the Jersey Shore and offers food preparation services. Follow him on social media @darren.monroe, visit his website www.darrenmonroe.co or email him at darren.monroe@yahoo.com.

FEBRUARY 2024

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Q &a

Valentine’s Day: An Expert Opinion A celebrated romance novelist talks love, life and local memories. BY MANASQUAN + BRIELLE STAFF

How did growing up at the Jersey Shore color your experience as a writer? My family had a house on Main Street in Manasquan. Originally, it was our summer home, until we winterized it and made it our permanent home. In the summers, I worked at the beach. I started by selling badges when I turned 14, and I worked my way up to become a beach cop. Manasquan was my home through college and is where my roots will always be. I’ve always called the beach home, whether it be in New Jersey or South Carolina. I think you write what you know, and I used my experience of growing up in Manasquan, combined with my love of The Lowcountry, to inspire the Gull Island series. Manasquan is such a tight-knit community, and that’s what I love about small coastal towns. Kindness is the heart of the community.

What makes the Jersey Shore unique from other beach town locations—aside from beach badges?

INTERVIEW WITH

JENNIFER VIDO

Jennifer Vido is a Manasquan native, a book influencer and the author of the Gull Island romance series. We caught up with her in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

(Laughs) I was just about to say beach badges! You can get a great slice of pizza on the beach in Jersey. And there’s nothing better than walking the beach during the offseason at the Jersey Shore. To walk down to Manasquan Inlet and watch the beauty of the boats passing back and forth...there’s no other place that I feel quite so at home.

What’s your writing process like? My full-time job happens from 9 to 5; I’m the executive director of a legal nonprofit. So, I usually don’t write until it’s about 8 o’clock at night. When everything’s done and when the house is quiet, that’s the best time for me. I sit in the living room with our two rescue dogs and our cat, and they all kind of gather with me as I write. And since I only have a few hours, I don’t have time for writer’s block. My time is pretty structured.

Is it ever a challenge to get your creative energy up at the end of a long day? Actually, I get inspired at the end of a long day. Because in life, whether it’s your family or your job, there are just so many things that you have to do. But when I sit down to write, it’s a world that I’m creating, where I decide the outcome. So, whenever you have a lot of things going on in the real world, it’s nice to have that sort of control and escape on the page.

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They say writing is rewriting. So how do you know when a book is truly finished and ready for the market? It’s true, you can always find something else to edit, and you can always find a better way to say something. But you just know when you’ve done your best work. One of the most important jobs of a romance novelist is to convince the reader that two characters deserve a happier ever after. And by the time you get to that last page, you just know if you’ve done your job.

Your new book, “Serenity by the Sea,” comes out in June. Is this a proper sequel to “Serendipity by the Sea” or new characters in the same world? There are new characters in the same world as the first book, with some recurring characters. I love writing within a series because it’s like visiting with old friends. And I think readers become invested in a community.

Can you talk about some of your influences or recent favorites? I’ve always loved Danielle Steel. To this day, I still read every new book of hers. As of late, Colleen Hoover. She writes unforgettable stories with characters that steal your heart. For great beach reads, I love Emily Henry. Her latest book, “Happy Place,” is one of those books that you just get lost in. Annabel Monaghan also had a great book out this year called “Same Time Next Summer.”

Do you and your husband have any big plans for Valentine’s Day? We’re foodies, so we always go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. We love to go out and explore new places.

What keeps your marriage romantic? My husband and I have been married since 1991. And I have to say, my husband is always there and always present. Nowadays, just being present is not easy, and it’s an uncommon gift for people to give. But he’s always been supportive of my literary dream, and he’s been my partner for this thing called life. Just being present is the greatest gift that he could have given me. “Serendipity By the Sea,” the first book in Vido’s Gull Island series, is available now in paperback and on Kindle.

FEBRUARY 2024

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Become a contributing writer or photographer for Manasquan + Brielle magazine.

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Fashionably Local Brielle’s Kaitlin Mahony brings big-city style down the shore. BY MANASQUAN + BRIELLE STAFF

Twenty years ago, Kaitlin

Mahony never thought that she would want to leave New York City. Today, Mahony is giving the next generation of fashionistas an education in design, and she says she can’t imagine living anywhere but Brielle. After graduating from Marist College with a degree in fashion design, Mahony spent a decade working for Accessory Exchange, a New York City handbag design

company. During those 10 years, Mahony created designs for renowned brands like XOXO, Twiggy, Cynthia Rowley and Beyonce Knowles’ line House of Deréon. For a young woman who grew up fascinated by style, it was a dream job. In 2006, Mahony moved to Hoboken, where she and her best friend, Christen Kopiec, launched Hera Couture, a dress company that specialized in party and bridesmaid

dresses. They opened a shop on Washington Street, and retail outlets across the country carried their designs. They were growing fast and doing it with style. Then came 2008. The housing market collapsed, banks failed and the fashion industry, like just about every industry, endured the economic fallout. Suddenly, the future of Hera Couture was uncertain—all while Mahony was in the midst of planning her wedding.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHELLE SCARANO PHOTOGRAPHY

“I love seeing students surprise themselves when their designs come to life. There’s nothing better than seeing all of that pride on their faces.” - Kaitlin Mahony, owner of Sketchbook

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Sketchbook courses begin with a hands-on lesson in the fashion croquis (the industry term for a design ensemble sketch), which gives young students a chance to foster important freehand skills.

A Love for Teaching That’s around the time that Mahony relocated down the shore where, legend goes, everything’s all right. Mahony got married in 2009, earned her teaching certification in 2011 and began teaching fashion and interior design at the high school level, first in the Toms River district and later in Freehold Township. It was a world away from New York City, but Mahony soon fell in love with the classroom setting. Four years ago, Mahony launched Sketchbook LLC. The idea was to bring world-class fashion design to the local level, combining her years of professional experience with relaxed and beginnerfriendly instruction. At first, she wasn’t sure how much interest to expect—but she quickly found her classes filling up. “Growing up in Colonia,” says Mahony, “I would go into the city almost every weekend to take fashion classes at Parsons and FIT. But down here, those kinds of opportunities aren’t as accessible. I wanted

to help kids who are interested in fashion learn more about the craft, and it all just evolved from there.” Sketchbook began as a series of afterschool classes for elementary and middle school students. Currently, most of the courses are four-week programs. Mahony keeps the age range somewhat flexible, with some students as young as third grade and no experience necessary.

Fostering Freehand Skills Sketchbook courses begin with a hands-on lesson in the fashion croquis (the industry term for a design ensemble sketch), which gives young students a chance to foster important freehand skills. “In the fashion industry, almost everything is digital now,” says Mahony, “but there are still so many times when you need to create something by hand. So, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in fashion, it’s important to develop those drawing techniques.” Mahony says she loves seeing the excitement in her students as their designs

become more accomplished. “With a little instruction,” says Mahony, “kids can learn the croquis faster than they expect to. And I love seeing students surprise themselves when their designs come to life. There’s nothing better than seeing all of that pride on their faces.” Recent Sketchbook courses have been held at Brielle Public Library. The latest four-week course began on January 17, with the next four-week course set to begin in late February or early March. In addition to student instruction, Sketchbook offers events for adults, such as birthday celebrations and private parties. The Sip and Sketch events for ladies are particularly popular, pairing wine and appetizers with fashion drawing. Mahony’s upcoming ladies’ night, titled Design It! Ladies Fashion Night Out, will be held at Brielle Public Library on February 22. Additional popup events are scheduled intermittently, with occasional events held at Manasquan’s Wonderland + Sea.

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A Special Community After years in the heart of the Big Apple, reinventing her brand for the Jersey Shore was a big adjustment. Mahony says she sometimes misses the hustle of urban life but found a sense of community in Brielle that she never had in New York City. “Now that I have a family, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love that my kids can hop on their bikes and ride to their friends’ houses. And in the

summertime, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else but near the beach.” The Jersey Shore might be a long way from New York City, but as Sketchbook continues to grow in popularity, Mahony is bringing fashion expertise to a brand new generation of eager students—and she’s still doing it with style. For more information about Sketchbook, follow @kaitlin.mahony on Instagram.

SHARE YOUR STORY! Do you have an interesting tale to tell? Let us know and we may feature it in a future issue. Email the editor: Chris. Baldi@manasquan-brielle.com.

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PHOTOGRAPHS THESE TWO PAGES BY FOTO REPUBLIK PHOTOGRAPHY

Jen Rego and Kenny Mundie met at Leggett’s in 2010. Five years later, they were married at St. Denis Roman Catholic Church in Manasquan. After the ceremony, they stopped by Leggett’s for a drink and a few photos to commemorate where it all began.

Love at

Leggett’s Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t find love at a bar. BY MANASQUAN + BRIELLE STAFF

Back in 2010, Jen Rego was splitting a summer rental on Manasquan’s 2nd Avenue with 12 other girls. They slept four to a bedroom, spent most of their days at the beach and most of their nights at Leggett’s. For the uninitiated, Leggett’s Sand Bar is a seven-nights-a-week Jersey Shore landmark. On late summer nights, the place fills up elbow-to-elbow, the girls shout along to throwback songs and the

guys stand on their toes trying to catch a bartender’s eye. Back in 2010, one of those bartenders was 22-year-old Kenny Mundie. Serving drinks at a place like Leggett’s was a dream job for a single guy in his early 20s. Kenny’s two brothers also worked at Leggett’s, and they’d begun the season by making a pact to have a “single summer.” No commitments, just lots of fun and absolutely no relationships.

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE MUNDIE FAMILY

“Lots of people will tell you that you can’t find love at a bar. But I tell them, you never know.” - Jen Mundie, Manasquan resident

Love Blooms Of course, summers in New Jersey don’t always go as planned. In a few short weeks, Jen and Kenny had already gotten to know each other by sight, since Jen’s summer house was “basically in the Leggett’s parking lot,” as she now says with a laugh. On the night of June 27, Kenny finished his shift, worked up his nerve and crossed the bar to offer Jen a drink. Neither of them can remember much about the first few words they exchanged. Considering time and place, it might have been hard to hear much anyway. The courtship unfolded as you might expect, only faster. Jen and Kenny traded numbers and met up again the next day. Sparks flew, and they quickly became inseparable. Four days after meeting her, Kenny told Jen that he loved her. It was barely July—and less than a hundred hours since their very first official conversation—and Kenny was already renouncing his single summer. Jen heard him drop the L word and realized with shock that she already felt the same way. “I was taken aback, but I said, ‘You know what? Me, too.’

It was pretty serious pretty fast.” The rest of the summer was a classic Jersey Shore love story. There were long days at the beach, trips to Atlantic City and many more nights at Leggett’s. Jen became a fixture at Kenny’s shifts.

The Squan Prom Labor Day approached. Jen would soon be packing up her summer house and returning to Springfield, New Jersey. The summer peaked at The Osprey Night Club at an end-of-summer party known as The Squan Prom. “You would go with a date, and everybody would dress up in prom dresses,” says Jen with another laugh. “It was so silly.” But it was at The Squan Prom that Jen realized her relationship with Kenny might actually go the distance and last beyond Labor Day. Kenny spent two more summers tending bar and eventually became a CPA. In 2013, Jen moved to Manasquan for good, when she and Kenny bought a house and moved in together. On their fourth anniversary, Kenny proposed.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY MELISSA DUNN PHOTOGRAPHY

Forever in Their Hearts In 2015, Jen and Kenny were married at Manasquan’s St. Denis Roman Catholic Church. After the ceremony, they stopped at Leggett’s for a drink and a few pictures. And following a reception at The Breakers in Spring Lake, the crowd went back to Leggett’s for the afterparty. Today, Kenny works in finance. Jen spent several years teaching and has since left the classroom to raise their family. Jen and Kenny have three kids: Amy, age 5, Dylan, age 2, and their youngest, Lucy, who is 3 months old. Five-year-old Amy tells people that Leggett’s is her favorite restaurant. She’s just big enough to understand that this is the same special place where her parents met and fell in love many summers ago. Whenever the Mundies drop by for a family outing, Amy loves to find her daddy’s picture, which still hangs on the wall. Sometimes, single summers can backfire in the most wonderful ways. Kenny’s two brothers also met their future wives while working at Leggett’s. “Everybody always jokes that there must be something in the water there,” says Jen. “But it’s not like anybody at Leggett’s is drinking water.” Jen and Kenny still live in Manasquan, and their house is currently under construction to keep up with their growing family, which includes two rescue dogs. “We would rather build onto our house than move,” Jen says. “It’s such a cool, unique town, and we love our community.” These days, the Mundies are more about family dinners than late nights, but Leggett’s will always be their place. “Lots of people will tell you that you can’t find love at a bar,” Jen says. “But I tell them, you never know.”

Opposite page: Jen and Kenny at Leggett’s in 2010, the year they met. This page: The Mundies with their children—Dylan (2), Amy (5) and Lucy (3 months)—and their two rescue dogs. .

SHARE YOUR STORY! Do you have an interesting tale to tell? Let us know and we may feature it in a future issue. Email the editor: Chris.Baldi@ manasquan-brielle.com.

FEBRUARY 2024

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Ice Cold for a Great Cause BY MORGAN MECHLER

When most people think about

taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, they’re usually imagining a hot and sunny summer day with water temperatures in the mid-70s. Not so many people entertain the idea of frolicking in the ocean in February, when the temperature hovers around 40° in the water and the land isn’t much warmer. But for the past 17

years, brave individuals have been plunging into the icy February waters at Manasquan Beach to show their love for a good cause. The Valentine Plunge for ALS is an annual tradition on Manasquan Beach. Participants brave frigid waters and shocking temperatures to raise funds and awareness for people in our community who have been affected by

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that impacts nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Over time, ALS diminishes a person’s ability to walk, talk, eat and even breathe. While existing treatments can slow its progression, there is, unfortunately, still no cure for ALS.

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF JOAN DANCY & PALS FOUNDATION

Take a freezing dip at the Valentine Plunge and help fight ALS.

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Clockwise from previous page: Participants run for the water at last year’s Valentine Plunge. The event began with live music, courtesy of a local bagpiper. The Tinton Falls Fire Department is one of many community groups that assemble to support the Valentine Plunge each year.

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“Unlike golf outings, you don’t need any special skills to jump into the ocean— just a towel and something warm to put on after.” - Jim O’Neill, founder of the Valentine Plunge for ALS

Supporting Local ALS Charities The Plunge benefits two distinguished nonprofits, the Joan Dancy & pALS Foundation and staytough.fightHARD. Both remarkable groups collaborate to not only raise funds but also to raise awareness, sharing moments of laughter in the process. Joan Dancy, a local mother of two, was first diagnosed with ALS in 2001. In the aftermath of her diagnosis, Joan was disheartened by the lack of support and information available to local individuals living with ALS. But her diagnosis led to inspiration, and when Joan succumbed to ALS in 2005, her fiancé, Terry Magovern, honored Joan’s memory by establishing a foundation in her name. Since its inception, the Joan Dancy & pALS Foundation has fought to bring service and support to ALS patients and their families within Monmouth and Ocean counties. Magovern unexpectedly passed away in 2007. Today, the foundation is run by Terry’s son Sean Magovern and has been expanded to include patients

and families living in Middlesex and Atlantic counties. The Joan Dancy & pALS Foundation is a part of Riverview Medical Center and still has the same goals and objectives that were originally inspired by Joan. Staytough.fightHARD began as a onetime surprise event, started by four college students from Bucknell University. These four students included Timothy O’Neill Jr., who originally conceived a surprise benefit for his father after Timothy O’Neill Sr. was diagnosed with ALS. The original benefit was such a success that O’Neill and his college friends decided to expand their onetime event into an ongoing nonprofit. The name of the organization was inspired by a piece of advice that O’Neill’s father would often give patients, friends and families about ALS: “Stay tough, fight hard.” Today, the organization offers assistance to families, educates the public and raises funds for ALS research. Its reach extends well beyond New Jersey—it raises funds and makes donations throughout the world.

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Plunge participants can register as individuals or in teams that compete in fundraising efforts. Either way, proceeds benefit locally-based ALS organizations.

No Special Skills Needed The annual Valentine Plunge takes place on the second Saturday in February. Jim O’Neill, event founder and brother of Tim O’Neill Sr., says he set out to conceive a fundraiser in which anybody can join. “Unlike golf outings, you don’t need any special skills to jump into the ocean—just a towel and something warm to put on after.” Participants can register either as individuals or as part of a team. Each person is expected to meet a minimum fundraising requirement. Teams are frequently organized in honor

of loved ones with ALS. The 2023 Plunge brought together 30 teams and numerous individuals dressed in bathing suits, wetsuits and amusing costumes. “Being part of a team and jumping in the ocean together is an easy way to become a part of an amazing organization that does everything it can to combat ALS,” says Jim O’Neill. As of last year, the event had raised more than $4.5 million, with no plans to stop any time soon. Even if the thought of jumping into the winter water gives you the chills, you can still help to further the cause. Donations can be made by anybody who prefers to stay dry and watch from the beach. Participants, organizers, sponsors and spectators are looking forward to feeling the love on February 10 at Manasquan Main Beach. For more information on the Valentine Plunge, on either of these wonderful organizations or on ways to get involved, visit valentineplunge.com or follow @plunge4als. Morgan Mechler is a senior at Manasquan High School. She is co-editor of the newspaper and captain of the cheer team.

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WELLNESS WATCH

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Better Resolutions When it comes to improving your fitness, choose progress over perfection in 2024. BY MEGHAN SCHULTZEL

As we reach the second month of the calendar year, how are those

New Year’s fitness resolutions going? If you still find yourself easing into the “new year, new me” vibe, it’s perfectly okay. Let’s focus on embracing a more realistic and sustainable path. I always remind my clients to prioritize progress over perfection. Expecting instant or monumental changes can lead to disappointment. Below are a few tips to help you redefine your approach to those resolutions. PRIORITIZE YOUR PASSION. Take a moment to 1 figure out what truly matters to you. Align your fitness goals

with your genuine priorities. This way, your journey will become personal and meaningful rather than arbitrary. “You need a deeper reason than just a date (like January 1),” says Zach Even-Esh, Manasquan resident and owner of The Underground Strength Gym. “Look at the people on your screensaver. How can you make yourself better for them and for yourself ?” KEEP IT REAL. Instead of setting overwhelming goals 2 for yourself—like hitting the gym every single day—opt for

something more achievable. Whether it’s a daily walk or a quick home workout, choose goals that fit your current lifestyle. If you’re thinking about joining a class or a gym, choose one that you’ll look forward to, not necessarily the one that promises radical results. Real results come with consistency, and consistency comes easier when you enjoy the workout.

WELCOME TO WELLNESS WATCH! Hello, Manasquan + Brielle readers! I’m Meghan Schultzel, a proud Manasquan resident, wife and mom to two spirited boys, ages 5 and 3. It is my great honor to join the magazine, and I’m thrilled to introduce Wellness Watch, a column that delves into the world of health and fitness within our community. Health and wellness have always been my professional and personal passions. Currently, I’m a pregnancy and postpartum exercise specialist and virtual health coach. In the past, I have been a professional dancer and cross-fitter. Each monthly column will highlight a topic, person or business shaping the landscape of health and wellness in our community. I’ll also keep you informed about health-related events in our towns, from wellness workshops and fitness classes to community runs and outdoor activities.

EMBRACE GRADUAL CHANGE. Small steps can 3 lead to big results. Rather than drastic shifts, give yourself

the grace to adapt gradually. Small wins along the way will add up, making your fitness journey more sustainable and enjoyable. “Focus on adding in, instead of eliminating,” says Jenn Levi, owner of Manasquan’s Wheee Get Fit & Play. “Consider adding in more water, more steps or more veggies. That sort of addition will help shift your mindset to a positive one.” Here’s to progress, patience, and becoming healthier and happier this year—one step at a time.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for a Wellness Watch topic? We’d love to hear from you! Email the editor Chris.Baldi@ manasquan-brielle.com.

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BOOK NOOK

Share the Love Enjoy these books recommended by the staff at BookTowne. BY BOOKTOWNE STAFF

This month, we want to share the love! Here are a few books for adults and children with which we are currently enamored.

ADULT FICTION

CHILDREN’S BOOKS “The Good Part” By Sophie Cousens

“Dragonboy and the 100 Hearts” By Fabio Napoleoni

Lucy Young is 26 years old and unlucky in love, work and life. Following yet another miserable blind date, she stumbles upon a wishing machine, pops a quarter into the slot and makes a wish: “I just want to get to the good part of my life.” The next morning, Lucy wakes up to discover herself married with two children and a successful high-powered career. Her “husband” is perfect, and her “kids” seem incredible. But has her wish been granted, or has she forgotten the past 19 years of her life? Part “Big,” part “13 Going on 30,” this book is a delightful story about what ifs and second chances.

In this feel-good picture book, Dragonboy and his friends, Yellow Kitty, Darwin, Drako and Simon, are stuck inside on a dreary day, longing to be outside. Over the course of the story, Dragonboy and his friends use their creativity to find joy and adventure in places they never expected. With every act of patience and kindness, a heart appears on the page. Young readers will love discovering all the hearts.

“Juno Loves Legs” By Karl Geary A heartbreaking coming-of-age novel about the love that exists between friends. Set in working-class Dublin in the 1980s, the characters in this book will stay with you long after you’ve reached the last page. We guarantee that you will fall in love with this story!

ADULT NON-FICTION/POETRY “Remember Love” By Cleo Wade Poet and social media inspiration Wade has done it again with this heartwarming collection of beautiful vignettes and selfaffirming poetry. “Remember Love” reminds us to share love, strength and resilience through all of life’s ups and downs. A perfect addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

“Edith Holler” by Edward Carey The witty and entrancing story of a young woman trapped in a ramshackle English playhouse—and the mysterious figure who threatens its very survival. Publication date: October 31, 2023.

“Love Is My Favorite Color” By Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon In this colorful and inspiring picture book, the reader gets to see the world through children’s eyes. This book is a much-needed reminder to stop and smell the roses and take the time to see all the beauty our world has to offer. A wonderful read to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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PHOTO OP

Big Monday

Monday December 18, 2023, brought one of the biggest swells of the century to the New Jersey coast. Matthew Lang caught this epic shot of Zack Dayton, one of the few surfers brave enough to paddle out that day. For some of the Jersey Shore’s best surfing photography, follow Lang on Instagram @matthew_lang_photography.

Have a great image for Photo Op? Submit your high-resolution shot to Chris.Baldi@manasquan-brielle.com.

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New Year, New Kitchen

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