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West Long Branch Area Insight

  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    Today, at Franklin Lake, I saw the Northern Shoveler, both male and female (photo to follow; they quickly swam away as I approached). Another quite stunning duck - iridescent green head, rusty sides and a white breast. I think its extraordinary we have such an array of waterfowl to observe during the winter months. Lets recap: the Hooded Merganser, the American Coot, now the Northern Shoveler, not to mention the always present Mallard duck. Can't wait to see what tomorrow may bring to the lake!
  • Elizabeth Justin
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    Franklin Lake in West Long Branch is a great spot to watch for birds who come east and south for the winter, particularly ducks. I have seen the male Hooded Merganser, a gorgeous black and white duck (see photo). Simply stunning! According to the "All About Birds" website, the Hooded Merganser prefers small ponds. Perfect!

    I've also seen the American Coot. According to the Birds of New Jersey Field Guide, the American Coot is not a duck but duck-like and is the only waterfowl with a white bill (see photo). So cool that its on our little Franklin Lake!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    October 25th was the 2nd annual Fall Festival in West Long Branch at Franklin Lake. It is a free event that includes hay rides, cider and donuts, bounce houses and big trucks! And pumpkins, of course.

    Historically, West Long Branch celebrated Columbus Day by joining the Long Branch Columbus Day parade that started at WLB's end of Broadway. The town came out to line the avenue and cheer all the parade participants. But three years ago, the powers that be in Long Branch decided to move the parade route which meant it no longer came through West Long Branch. Hence the development of West Long Branch's Fall Festival. Designed for children, the first festival last year was a huge success. This year was no different, except maybe better!

    I think its always great when we can take advantage of our Franklin Lake. Its not just for joggers and dog walkers!
  • Elizabeth Justin
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    If you look at the satellite view of West Long Branch, in addition to the green, brown and black that predominates the image, you'll also see a lot of blue. Many properties here have pools in their backyard, including my own. I did not set out to find a home with a pool. In fact, I was a little disappointed, not because of the work required to maintain a pool but because I feared it would be isolating, especially when moving into a new area. Well, after 4 years, my fear wasn't warranted but then again it was.

    We've invited many people over and we've had several parties with many kids jumping and playing in the pool. While friends who have their own pool will still come over to enjoy your pool, there is a silent competition among pool owners for the most resort-like backyard (or maybe that's just me!) I have the basic backyard pool set up but I've been in more than a few backyards with pools that have more than one lounge area, professional landscaping, and surround-sound speaker systems! Its like being at a boutique hotel in Miami!

    Then there's the pool clubs, which are usually outrageously expensive for just a few months (but there are a few more reasonable). Since we haven't joined a pool club, I can't speak about them too much, except what I see from Facebook posts. But that's the issue! According to FB, these clubs are where all the fun is! Every day spent socializing on the beach or at the pool. There's even some people who have their own pools but still go to the pool club!

    So pool or pool club? There's pros and cons on both sides. No matter which one you pick, you will find that West Long Branch is very quiet during the day in the summer.
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    The lacrosse season is over. This was the second year for my 4th grade daughter. Even though I grew up in Connecticut, where my high school's lacrosse team was top in the state, I had never seen a lacrosse game before last year (and I graduated a long, long time ago!). So not only have I been pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy watching the game, even beginner players, I have also been impressed by the lacrosse machine that takes place down here. Remember we are talking about 3rd and 4th graders. There are official uniforms with numbers, a pre-season, weekly practices, and games that took us all over Monmouth County.

    At the start of the season, there was a lacrosse tournament that was an enormous event, in my opinion. There were 17 fields! I hadn't seen anything like it. All of the Shore Lacrosse teams, girls and boys from 3rd grade to 8th grade, were playing. Games started at 8:00 am and continued until 5:00 pm, if the team made it to the playoff round. Each team played at least 3 games. Of course, the games were not back to back, so players and their families were spending all day at this event, outside in early spring.

    My girl's team did not make the playoffs, but thank goodness! We were done. The season officially ends on May 31, when they have their end-of-season party. Despite being frozen in the early spring and at several games, we look forward to next year's season.
  • Elizabeth Justin
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    Last week was the Frank Antonides Middle School Talent show for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Wow! They did a great job! I went with my 4th grader and her friend, just to be entertained and to support the kids. I think any 12 or 13 year old, who has enough courage to stand on stage and sing or dance in front of a crowd of people, is amazing! In a town where most kids are on at least one sports team, it was a nice change to see the artistic side of the kids' lives. Perhaps in 2-3 years, I'll have my own student up on stage!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    I love where we live in West Long Branch but it's not perfect. No place is really. I prefer not to complain in my posts but this time, I just have to. The greatest problem here is the town council, that is made up of same minded individuals, which means there are no ideas being questioned.

    The latest issue that is a town issue, but was not discussed with the town, has to do with Franklin Lake. A Link News article stated that one resident complained about the cherry trees in the park. Why? No idea. But apparently the DPW got word from someone on the council to chop all those trees down. No discussion with anyone. Now there are huge stumps where these beautiful flowering trees, once stood, for decades, around one of the best features of this town, Franklin Lake. It's not that the park looks bad now, but there was no reason to do that. They were beautiful trees! Even the Shade Tree Commission had no idea anyone complained, and were equally surprised to find out the trees had been chopped down.

    I wish there was a solution but I can't think of one. The only thing that comes to my mind is to get someone new on the council. I will keep my fingers crossed that the next election will succeed in generating different results.
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    Hopefully Friday the 20th, the first day of spring, was our last snow for the season. Even though it looked pretty, the entire town covered in white, and reminded us all of the holidays, the consensus among my family and friends is, enough already! We're done, period. Sorry, kids, we don't want to see anymore snowmen.
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Sunday night we had to put our dog Stanley to sleep. He had an incurable condition, Inflamed Bowel Disease with an esophagus motility disorder, which means that he couldn't eat or swallow anything. Even a feeding tube did not alleviate the issue in any way. He seemed so miserable, while we kept hoping each day for a positive sign. But it was not to be.

    Pets are so prevalent in family homes here in West Long Branch and elsewhere. I posted his photo on Facebook and so many people have responded with sympathy and compassion. A death of a family pet seems to bring out the best in people.

    Not sure when another dog will join our family. We had him only a short time, 2 years, having adopted him from the MCSPCA knowing he was a mature dog. He was such a great and lovable dog! We are missing him very much.
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    Strange that when the weather folk give us lots of warning of blizzard like conditions, we get hardly a dusting of snow. But when they say we're not to get more than a couple of inches, we get six! Consistently, school is canceled or shortened no matter what the outcome.

    Personally, it is not the kind of welcome home I was hoping for after spending the long weekend in south Florida where it was near 80 degrees every day. Yeah, never been a snow bunny. Sledding? Been there done that. Skiing? Not bad but gets boring fast and too expensive. Is there anything else to do? Boo to winter snow...
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    I confess that New Year's Eve was not spent in West Long Branch this year. We were in south Florida and spent the Eve in Fort Lauderdale, standing outside among thousands, listening to music, eating and drinking from truck vendors, and reveling in the fact that we were wearing short sleeves and flip flops on December 31st. We did not miss WLB! Even after a week of driving on the crowded winter highways of south Florida, not being able to go in the ocean because of too many jelly fish, and having a bad hair day every day from the humidity, we still didn't want to come back north. But here we are, back to the routine of getting up for school, walking the dog, and doing work. All with our sweaters, coats and boots on!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    Its that time of year again - houses with lights, decorated trees, and what seems like endless shopping. As much as I complain about the stresses of the holiday season, we do it just like all the rest. Just got our tree yesterday, lights were put on the house last week, and the kids and I decorated to holiday music favorites. It's repetitive but in a good way! And best of all, for the first time in as long as I can remember, shopping is just about finished with just two more to get. Plus some gifts have already been wrapped! Sometimes, I amaze myself!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    If you have a child who likes basketball, boy or girl, they can get involved with Mid-Monmouth Basketball. My youngest daughter, age 9, joined a team without tryouts but older ages may have to qualify to get on a team. Her team only started practicing in November but I've heard other teams have been playing since July.

    Thanksgiving weekend in West Long Branch is a 3-day long basketball tournament that includes teams from all over Monmouth County. It takes place from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm at three different venues - Frank Antonides School, Shore Regional High School, and Monmouth University. This is a popular and well attended event.

    I suppose the last day of championship games is more streamlined in one location but I wouldn't know as my daughter's team didn't get that far! In fact, the reason I know anything about this tournament is because all parents of players are expected to volunteer at the ticket counter or snack counter for 3-4 hour shifts during the tournament. So there we were, my husband and I, from 2:00 - 6:00 pm the Friday after Thanksgiving, at the ticket counter. We're glad to have done our part and look forward to next year and a better season for our team.
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Along with the PTA, the town of West Long Branch established an Education Foundation many years ago to support our students and teachers. The Foundation raises money that is then used to fund grants to teachers in order for them to improve their classrooms and teaching. Each year the foundation hosts a fund-raising event which includes full dinner and bar while baskets of gifts and door prizes are handed out to a lucky winners. The dinner draws guests from the teaching and administration community of both West Long Branch schools, Betty McElmon Elementary and Frank Antonides Middle School, in addition to parents. My husband and I went this year; we ate some delicious appetizers and dinner but we didn't win any prizes. Maybe next year!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    There were 250 pieces of candy. All gone in a few hours, even before nightfall and that's giving out one piece per kid. That's what Halloween is like on my street. It seems the rest of the town comes to my neighborhood to trick or treat!

    I know it's true, and I know kids from other towns come here, like Long Branch, Oceanport, and Interlaken. I wish I had good photos to truly capture the mass of masked children who take over the street. They go door to door like a swarm of bees moving from beehive to beehive. Even the parents tag along, occasionally in costume. I've seen parents dragging a wagon behind them, with adult style drinks in it. The kids get candy, the grownups take a swig.

    Then there are those houses that host post trick-or-treating parties! Never before in my life has Halloween taken on this level of mass public participation and partying until West Long Branch. It is a sight to be seen! Next year, 350 pieces!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    This past week the West Long Branch PTA sponsored its first big fundraising event of the year - the Scholastic Book Fair. The library is partially taken over by all the merchandise of the book fair, which includes books for all ages, even adults. There was also fun stuff like pencils, pens, erasers and bookmarks. Many parent volunteers help make the event run smoothly. Thank you too all!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    For the first time, West Long Branch put on a Fall Festival for their residents this past Sunday, October 19 at Franklin Lake Park. It was a resounding success! Activities included pumpkin decorating, balloons, bouncy houses, refreshments, and a hay ride around Franklin Lake. It was all free, by the way. It took place from 1:00-4:00 pm. We arrived at 3:00 pm. By that time there were no more pumpkins, most of the refreshments were gone, and there was an hour wait for the hay ride! Great job Recreation Committee of WLB! We look forward to next year's fall festival when we will be sure to arrive early!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    Now that all the kinks of starting the new school year have been worked out, October is going to be busy with activities! First, there is the first ever West Long Branch (WLB) PTA sponsored Betty McElmon Elementary Halloween Party on Friday, October 17. The kids, and parents will dress in costume, dance and play games thanks to our awesome DJ.

    Then, October 19th from 1:00-4:00 pm, will be the first WLB Fall Festival. There will be pumpkins, hay rides, face-painting and all the typical fall fun for kids of all ages. During the week of October 20-24, the WLB PTA will be hosting its annual Scholastic Book Fair. It's a great time to get books for the school year and for Christmas gifts.

    And last, but not least, is Halloween! WLB is the place to be on Halloween when, personally, my family has given away pounds and pounds of candy to trick-or-treaters. Happy Fall!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    Finally! Its been three long months but it has arrived - back to school! Most Moms I know are doing a jig this morning, enjoying the peace, even if it is only for a few hours since it's a half day. For some Moms, there's a little anxiety mixed in as their child either enters school for the first time or is moving up and changing schools. But, I have the utmost confidence in the teachers and staff at both the public schools in West Long Branch, that they will be supportive and understanding on these first days, as they help all the children transition back to the school routine, with lockers, schedules, and changing classrooms. I'm actually looking forward to 12:00 pm when my kids come home, to hear how their first day went. This is particularly true for my youngest, who has started 4th grade in Frank Antonides School. She'll have a new routine, changing teachers, and has a locker for the first time. I expect to hear all good things about today!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    There is just one week left before school starts. In my house, we are starting to get used to school again by waking up early and doing practice math problems. We're also going from store to store collecting all the school supplies, since no one store seems to have it all for a good price. We're also getting some last swims in our pool, regardless of the temperature. I think the water is freezing! But the kids insist on jumping in anyway. There will also be a last hurrah to the beach. We've done the water park, the amusement park, trip to grandma's, camp, the beach, swimming and playdates. Summer fun? Mission accomplished.
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    Well, our "Rising Star" who grew up in West Long Branch, Audrey Kate, made it to the semi-final round but didn't get any farther on the show. Personally, I thought she did great and should have moved on to the finals, but it wasn't just up to me. Perhaps she'll be able to get a recording contract anyway and put out a cd or at least a single. She has an unusual voice so it should be easy to hear, when and if it happens. Even though she didn't win, I and my fellow West Long Branch neighbors, are still thrilled that our little borough near the ocean made it onto national TV!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Friday night Beatlemania came to West Long Branch as part of the Summer Concert series at Franklin Lake. Each Friday night at 7:00pm, anyone can set up their chairs on the lawn at the lake and enjoy the sounds of a local band. The music covers several genres from doo-wop, to 60's rock, to Motown, just to name a few. Just another of the many reasons why West Long Branch is a great place to live! Check out the Calendar of Events to see the bands coming in August.
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
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    West Long Branch, NJ
    West Long Branch was in the national spot light Sunday night on the reality show, Rising Star. One of the contestants announced she is from West Long Branch! Our proximity to the beach was highlighted as she showed pictures of herself on the sand and surfing. She made it through to the next round! Keep your fingers crossed. The longer she's there, the longer the nation will know about West Long Branch!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Yet another reason this is a great town. The streets were lined with flags, the stage was set, and the area was cordoned off. All to make ready for West Long Branch's annual Independence Day Celebration with Fireworks. The festivities took place at Franklin Lake where you can bring your blanket and chairs, sit back, listen to music, then watch an awesome display in the sky at night. The lucky ones, who live along the lake can just stay home and watch from their porch or deck. Although there are other towns with Independence Day celebrations, they don't all have fireworks. Only two others within 10 miles offer fireworks - Long Branch and Asbury Park. They will be quite crowded with difficulty parking. That's why my cousins in Little Silver are coming here to West Long Branch - the small town with the big celebration!
  • Elizabeth Justin
    RE/MAX Elite
    Ask Elizabeth a question about West Long Branch.
    West Long Branch, NJ
    Well, in West Long Branch, the town recreation department sponsors an awesome summer camp program. What makes it awesome, is the length of day and the price. The camp is $200 and is available 9:00am-3:00pm for 6 weeks! Your kids can go hang out with their friends, run around, make crafts and go on field trips to such places like Keansburg Water Park (field trip costs not included). It's run by teachers from Frank Antonides School. Kids from Shore Regional High School act as camp counselors and there's an 8th grade counselor-in-training program. If you want your child to be in more organized activities with swimming lessons then this isn't for them. But for many of West Long Branch's youth, this camp is just enough to make both kids and parents happy.

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