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Nightmare in NJ – Halloween 2014 by TaraJean McD. Nightmare in NJ – Halloween 2014 by TaraJean McD.(1)

Although I love the idea of Halloween and dressing in outrageous outfits, I am not usually a big fan of being scared. Maybe it goes back to my childhood when my sister would race me up the stairs at bedtime and hide somewhere in my room or the bathroom waiting for the perfect opportunity to jump out and terrify me. But this year, with the help of my courageous 11 year old, I decided to see what the fright craze was all about in NJ.


Our first visit was to Asbury Park on the evening of the Zombie Walk. Some have called it the largest Zombie gathering in the world.


I decided I would dress in a CSI ball cap and sneakers, prepared and ready for a quick escape if necessary. Upon arrival I realized that I would be able to blend in with the hundreds of spectators mixed among the thousands of zombies, which relieved me. I was fully aware that zombies have a tendency to target fearful victims and I didn’t want to be their next meal. My sidekick and I stepped into the slow zombie crawl towards Cookman Avenue alongside an old decrepit man dragging his bloody leg. Looking in either direction I realized that I was surrounded by zombies with bloodied, half eaten faces, dragging their legs and arms and other body parts down the boardwalk.


The event was not just for the wild and outrageous lovers of gore, but it was also a fundraiser for brain cancer through the Gray Matters campaign and a blood drive with Central Jersey Blood Center.  I recently learned that over $3000 was raised for Brain Cancer Tumor Center and Camp Jinka – a free summer program offered by the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center for kids and teens whose lives have been impacted by a loved one’s diagnosis of a brain tumor. The evening was a little surreal, and the experience I can take away from this event mostly was the unsettling feeling of what it could be like to actually live through a Zombie Apocalypse. As the sun set on the avenue at Asbury Park the zombies began to spread across the town and meander into some the stores. Bloody old women and half eaten children were standing on lines for cheese fries or a warm pretzel. The sidewalks could not hold all the zombies and they began spilling into the streets, slowly struggling to move in their tattered clothes and face prosthesis. Everywhere we looked decaying groups of people were sluggishly looking for their way home. An eerie night over all, both my little 11 year old and I decided next year we would dress as Zombie warriors and come back to join the crawl.

The following weekend I brought a small group of witches, cats and zombies with me to the Witches Ball in Mount Holly NJ. This event is referred to as wickedly cool and amazingly enchanted. Rather than experiencing the future omen of the apocalypse, we found ourselves propelled into the past within moments as we entered under the archway leading to the Historic Mill Race Village.

As we ambled through the darkly lit streets the atmosphere of magic and mysticism enveloped us. The town had transformed into an old witches haven, with fortunetellers, artists, musicians and vendors. My mood relaxed as I meandered amongst witches and goblins, and men and women of gothic, fantasy, medieval and horror. It almost seemed as though we were all out for an eerie moonlight stroll. After listening to the great sounds of Midnight Mosaic, a local NJ band, we gathered our broomsticks and headed for our next excursion.




The Casola Haunted Hay Ride in Marlboro, NJ on Rte 79 was our final stop for the evening.

Although there were many times I have taken afternoon hayrides through the cornfields, it could not have prepared me for the terrifying darkness that awaited us through the torch lit woods. As the rickety wagon with very little protection slowly waddled down the winding dirt road zombies, ghouls, and axe murderers threw their bodies against the sides of the wagon and clamored on board. They were moaning or screaming or laughing uncontrollably as they moved slowly through the horrified wagon looking for huddling passenger to petrify. Although my little sidekick was shaking in her boots, I felt that I could maintain my composure amongst all these horror film villains. After all, I knew that there was only one figure that could cause my skin to crawl and shatter my bravery. Specifically it was the little demon girl who wore the decaying antique nightgown and used her long dark stringy hair to hide her decomposing face, she was the character from the movie “The Ring”. Luckily, the ride seemed close to the end. Strangely, I sensed a quietness. As I lifted my head from the safety of my daughter’s hooded shoulders, I peeked a look around to see if the eerie villains had abandoned the ride. As I turned to my left I spotted something white and small that seemed to be slowly floating a few feet behind the wagon in the darkness.

As I looked closer my eyes focused on the silhouette of a little girl with long hair wearing a long white night gown following the wagon in her bare feet. My heart stopped. From her pace I was sure she could never catch up to our rickety old wagon. That’s when the wagon came to a halt. I looked at my brave little 11 year old and said, “They have got to be kidding.” Sure enough the little faceless child with the bloody nightgown and dirty feet climbed on board. Not sure how she knew, but she went directly over to me and sat beside me and began to creepily hum a twisted nursery rhyme.

Well…that was all she wrote! I was done and ready to go home.


That experience was, after all, my last Halloween adventure for this year. On my list of places I was to visit are some of the scariest and most terrifying in NJ:


Six Flags Fright Fest in Jackson

Brookdale’s Haunted Theatre in Lincroft

Asbury Park’s Haunted Hall

Brighton Asylum in Passaic

Field of Terror in East Windsor

Camp Evans Base of Terror in Wall

Ghost Tour of the John Fell House in Allendale

Corn Field of Terror in Egg Harbor City

Fear in the Forest in Browns Mills

Hollowgraves Haunted Manor in Keansburg

Evil Spirits Woods at Emerald Acres in Monrow

Nightmare at Gravity Hill in Jackson.


I hope you can choose a place to visit off this year’s October “To Do” list that will help you reach you scare limits this Halloween. Thanks to the creepy little faceless girl in the long bloody nightgown I will be holding off until next year, spending the next hundred sleepless nights regaining my courage.

So, maybe next year I will start with a ghost tour or and haunted asylum (or maybe not).

Happy Halloween!

And post your favorite spine chilling Halloween experiences.

TaraJean McD.,



Thanks to Terry Camp for lighting my fire and bringing me along and extricating me from my post-surgical shoulder replacement doldrums to get back into the eclectic/electric scene of Asbury Park. I’ve been to the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation (“Where music lives”) on Cookman Avenue often, from its inception several years ago. It is a back to the future place of musical memories and precious history. The old ‘Upstage Club’ which opened in Asbury Park in 1968 and was a launching pad for Bruce Springsteen, members of the E Street Band and Southside Johnny closed in 1971 but its molecules are still upstairs.

The ‘Big Man’s West’ exhibit focuses on Clarence Clemon’s nightclub which opened in Red Bank in 1981 and helped to revive the Jersey shore music scene in its two short years. Rock royalty performed there. The walls of Musical Heritage Foundation are replete with pictures, artifacts and videos grasping those two magical years. Many pictures on display were taken by Bob Wilkinson from Big Man’s West. The work of iconic music photographer John Cavanaugh, who artfully captures the essence of the history of Jersey music, was also displayed. I had a chance to talk to Candy Brown who worked at Big Man’s West; she recalled the magic and energy within those walls, described as “The best kept secret in New Jersey.”


The reception was essential Asbury Park with its diversified guests. I had some quality time with Stephen Bumball, another iconic historian of the city. Tom Gilmour, from Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce continued our dialogue why the city is evolving into that international music destination; the journey towards that vision ever so apparent. And then with Jean Mikle, Asbury Park Press, we talked about the Light of Day Foundation for Parkinson’s research and awareness which takes place in January in Asbury Park with a nearly a week of non-stop music. In the meantime, Jean is soon hopping into a European van and doing the continent again with musicians performing in the international portion of Light of Day. And Jo Bonanno had me promote Rutgers University to his high school daughter. A huge multi-liter bottle of cabernet in the back mesmerized so I partook.

Terry Camp announced the 3rd Annual Birthday Celebration for the Big Man, Clarence Clemons is now scheduled for January 10th 2015 at Bar A in Belmar. It’s an all-day happening of amazing musicians paying homage to Clarence; NOT to be missed. Watch for updates from Terry Camp and Nick Clemons and get tickets early.

The night was still young. Terry and I descended on Langosta Lounge where Pat DiNizio from the ‘Smithereens’ is performing on Thursday nights. Arlan Feiles opened for Pat; the most expeditious way to describe the rest of our night with both Arlan and Pat is, “Wow!”

Asbury Park N.J.- The Art Ninjas ! (Artist Nation TV)  By: Noelle Ciumei Asbury Park N.J.- The Art Ninjas ! (Artist Nation TV) By: Noelle Ciumei(0)

(Artist Nation TV)

Asbury park, NJ- the Stone Pony

Last night at the Matisyahu concert, I saw in the corner of my eye, a young man painting while Matisyahu was performing. I immediately introduced myself and was greeted by Tim- the co-owner of Haven Art Studio. He had a tiny stand by the side of the stage selling his paintings which turned out to be incredible. It was obvious that this type of work took a lot of time and patience and I just had to find out more about him.
It turns out he works along side his brother Jon, their strategy is to work (literally) side by side on the SAME canvas in order to feed off of each other’s ideas. It was amazing!

The best part of the night was seeing them paint together during the concert; feeling the music while making their choices in color then taking their brushes and going with the flow of the sound. I’ve never seen anything like it, I instantly fell in love.

After only speaking to them for an hour I was hooked on their work and their story. I wanted to buy this painting they made, that happened to glow in the dark, but I told Tim that if I didn’t spend all my money on alcohol I’ll come back and buy something. Unfortunately after several beers and needing the rest of my cash for the cab home I didn’t buy the painting. But I know for certain that this won’t be the last time I see this dynamic duo in action.

If you’re interested in seeing their work- check out their Facebook page

Haven Art Studio is based in California
By: Noelle Ciumei

Drummers…What’s Your MO? By Tara-Jean Vitale Drummers…What’s Your MO? By Tara-Jean Vitale(3)

Drummers…What’s Your MO?

Modus operandi (plural modi operandi) is a Latin phrase, which can be translated as “method of operation”. The term is used to describe someone’s habits. We Americans like to shorten it to “MO”, and Thino Cacciolo, owner and founder of MO DRUMSTICKS LLC.,  has chosen to build his own unique business around it. When first meeting Thino it is apparent his passion for music was the foundation for the creation of the Mo Drumstick. Thino believes “each and every drummer should be given the ability to create the perfect drumstick based on their own unique style of play, grip, age, physical abilities and experience”…a drummer’s MO. According to Thino, the music industry has taken tremendous strides in the development of better instruments both electronically and structurally, but stick design still had a ways to go. That is until MO DRUMSTICKS TM. was introduced just about 6 months ago.

Drummers across the country have re-discovered their ‘DRUMMIN’ MOJO” and are not shy about letting everyone know how special these sticks are. Here are just a few…





Tom Motts has appeared in Modern Drummer, Metal Edge and Billboard magazines. Tom and Serial Obsession has performed on many legendary stages like CBGB, ,B.B.Kings, Lamours,Terminal 5 and Kenny’s Castawys to name a few.

Tom writes… “I was fortunate enough to be among the first drummers to road test this innovative stick, which I found added much control to my playing.

By adding a numbered weight system that allows you to customize the balance of the stick which changes the “sweet spot, fulcrum) it allowed me great comfort especially for my old fashioned stick twirls, thus creating the “MOTTS ROCKS #147”. Drummers, we no longer have to settle… Thino and MO DRUMSTICKS just made it personal!!! Having my Signature Stick makes me feel like a King and I’m loving mine!

Staff Sergeant Robert Hooks of The United States Army is stationed in Afghanistan. Every soldier carries a dream with him from back home to the forefront; Sgt Hooks dream was to play the drums. He found MO Drumsticks on Facebook. He sent a message through the internet asking about ordering custom drumsticks for when he comes back home.  Thino thought “why wait?’ He made Sgt Hook’s personal and unique drumsticks as quickly as possible and shipped them out to where the soldier was stationed in Afghanistan. MO Drumsticks can be found all over the United States, from California to Texas to NJ to Ohio. But the package he shipped to Afghanistan for one of America’s soldiers was one of Thino’s favorite.


Thino with John Castellano and Good & Plenty posing in front of Brown’s in Bay Ridge in the late 70’s. Good & Plenty played many local hot spots in NJ: Robins Reef Yacht Club and Venice Restaurant in Bayonne.  Left to right… Thino Cacciolo, John Castellano, Doreen Rose, Ray Naccari, Phil Castellan0

MO’s Patent Pending one of a kind, Grooved/Weighted Drumsticks combine machined ergonomic groove(s) filed into the stick at the fulcrum, (the sweet spot of the stick) with a weight distribution system that allows a drummer to customize the mass weight of each stick to match their play. Not just add weight to the stick, but distribute that weight across the stick! Thino believes that this custom design will give drummers of all levels of play the opportunity to reach their full potential just by using their own personally designed custom MO DRUMSTICK.










Facebook Page:

Writer TaraJean Vitale
With Thino at American Hotel, Freehold NJ

Tastes Of The Belmar Seafood Fest 2014 – by  Noelle Ciumei Tastes Of The Belmar Seafood Fest 2014 – by Noelle Ciumei(0)

Belmar NJ – Seafood Festival 2014
I found a great spot on the boardwalk to put my plate of oysters down and was greeted by this extremely friendly family from out of town. One of the family members convinced me to take a before and after picture of my plate- she read my mind so I took a before and after picture. After, I reviewed the “photo shoot” I had with my oysters and came to the conclusion that this was my favorite picture.


Came across this awesome stand, where they were serving raw oysters, shrimp and clams. I couldn’t help but smile and admire how hard this little boy was working to help feed a hungry crowd. [ check them out on FB: Jersey Shore BBQ]










Good times at the Jersey Shore!
Noelle Ciumei

(Video)Monmouth & Ocean County Food Bank Fundraiser Event with SouthSide Johnny & the Asbury  Jukes.  Jason Nappi (Video)Monmouth & Ocean County Food Bank Fundraiser Event with SouthSide Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Jason Nappi(0)

‘The Monmouth & Ocean County Food Bank Parter up with The Windmill Restaurant’s for the unofficial start of summer featuring Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. This celebration is to raise awareness and money for the food bank to help support the thousands of families who will go hungry this summer. The goal is to sell 10,000 or more hotdogs and raise over 50 thousand dollars for the food bank.’

NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: SOS: BOSNIA and SERBIA:  Recently hit with the worst flooding and natural catastrophe in centuries.  Call for AID.   May 20, 2014   By Calvin Schwartz NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: SOS: BOSNIA and SERBIA: Recently hit with the worst flooding and natural catastrophe in centuries. Call for AID. May 20, 2014 By Calvin Schwartz(0)

NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: SOS: BOSNIA and SERBIA:  Recently hit with the worst flooding and natural catastrophe in centuries.  Call for AID.   May 20, 2014   By Calvin Schwartz


Someone asked me why NJ Discover, nestled comfortably in secure confines of central New Jersey and  heretofore over the past few years having journalistically covered events, people and places so close to Monmouth County, would suddenly devote energy and attention to the catastrophic floods and  tragedy unfolding in Bosnia and Serbia. Interestingly as a feature writer for NJ Discover, I’ve been pondering world stages, human species, interconnectivity and global issues for the past several months, looking far beyond the geographic boundaries of Monmouth County.




And what I’ve concluded, with lots of help from my media friends, is that more than ever before in human species history and especially for the next three decades, we earthlings need each other more than ever before. Every one of us is connected to each other and there are many survival issues we need to face together. “He ain’t heavy he’s my brother” really works for the next few decades.

So it’s easy, not hard, to focus now on our brothers and sisters in Bosnia and Serbia.  The rains and floods there have been hugely catastrophic. They need food, medicine and clothing desperately. I marvel at how Bosnia and Serbia are working together now after political unrest and war years ago. They also need international help and our help right here in New Jersey. Jerseyans weathered Hurricane Sandy; we understand and feel. If there are folks out there who want to mobilize efforts in addition to the Red Cross, we’re here to help. I’ve heard up to 70% of the people there are not getting aid and up to 70 to 80% of the land is under water.

Calvin Schwartz    5-20-14



Here are compilations of news updates:

“Bosnia and Serbia were recently hit with the worst flooding and natural catastrophe in centuries. Three months’ worth of rain fell on the region in three days last week, creating the worst floods since records began 120 years ago. Thousands of homes were destroyed and many lives were taken- authorities said on Saturday that 25 people have died, but say the toll could rise. Tens of thousands of home are left without drinking water and electricity.

From the air- almost a third of Bosnia, mostly its north-east corner, resembles a huge muddy lake, with houses, roads and rail lines submerged. Another risk of concern are landslides triggered by the floods- these raise the risk of injury and death from land mines left over from the Bosnian war in 1992-1995.

The damage is being estimated to be in the billions. One thing that has been extremely impressive is how helpful people have been with each other!” 


More News Updates:

“Red Cross teams working in close cooperation with the emergency management sector and local emergency headquarters have been helping evacuate the population affected by severe floods in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The region has suffered unprecedented rainfall in recent weeks.

More than 4,000 have been evacuated so far as a result of what government sources have called the biggest Serbian disaster in recent history.

In Serbia, 420 Red Cross staff and volunteers assissted with evacuations in Valjevo and Lazarevac. 820 blankets, 130 rubber boots and 4,430 meat cans have already been distributed in affected municipalities. The operation was hindered in some parts of the country due to broken bridges and inaccessible roads. The urgent distribution of ready-to-eat meals, drinking water, blankets, mattresses, cots, rubber boots, hygiene items will continue over the weekend.

This is the third response operation the Serbia Red Cross has been involved in this year and the resources are stretched to the maximum as a result.


Depleted stocks:

In Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities have declared a state of emergency as hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in 14 municipalities, including Doboj, Maglaj, Brcko District, Olovo, Bijeljina, Lukavac, Kladanj, Srebrenica, Gradacac and Zvornik. The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina delivered food parcels and drinking water on foot where the roads are blocked but also by jeep and boat. The society said it would continue to provide daily meals and drinking water for the affected population.

In the northern part of Bosnia, the society’s multi-purpose rescue teams, in cooperation with the BiH Departments of Public Security, set up temporary accommodation for the people who were evacuated. In Brcko District, the Red Cross teams performed medical evacuations and built sand bag flood defences.

The worst flood was reported in the capital Sarajevo and Tuzla regions, in the central parts of the country, as well as in the cities of Gorazde and Bijeljina. More flooding continues to threaten other parts of the country blocking the road access to some of the main cities.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appeals for funds for both countries to replenishing stocks and for early recovery measures and materials through the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, which will be used to replenish stocks and to cover early recovery measures and materials.

So far, the Serbia Red Cross has assessed the need for materials and additional equipment for water drainage, dehumidifiers assistance and replenishment of its depleted emergency stock of blankets, mattresses, cots, rubber boots and food items.”


How to Help Flood Victims in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia : (from the German Marshall Fund of the United States)

Of course check International Red Cross sources!!!

Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia have experienced floods of Biblical proportions since last week, the worst that the region has known since they began keeping records 120 years ago. In Bosnia, more than 1 million people  live in the affected areas. About 500,000 people have left their homes and at least 95,000 homes are without power. Over 1 million people have been cut off from clean water supplies. In Serbia, tens of thousands of people have lost everything. As many as 30,000 people have been evacuated to collective centers, and most 50 people have died. Landslides have moved land mines leftover from the wars in  the 20th century, estimated to be as many as 120,000. The floods hit Croatia on Monday; 15,000 people have been evacuated, and unfortunately there have been two confirmed deaths.

There is a great shortage of food, drinking water, clothes, hygienic products, and medicine for everyone, but the most immediate concern is for babies and their exhausted mothers.

There is danger of infection in the coming days as water supplies have been contaminated.

Support will be needed even more in the months ahead, since hospitals, schools, houses, and roads all need to be rebuilt.

We ask our international partners, colleagues, and friends to support the people in the Balkans with a donation of any size.

How to help in Serbia

Donate to the state institution solely for this purpose

Donate to the “General support” fund of the TRAG Foundation, the most respected foundation in Serbia.

How to help in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Donate to Red Cross of Republika Srpska

Donate Red Cross of the Federation of B&H

Donate to the MOZAIK Foundation, the most respected community foundation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

How to help in Croatia

Donate to Red Cross

Donate to Croatian Caritas







NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: An Afternoon with Singer/Songwriter Robin DeLorenzo at Jankland Recording Studio. April 13th 2014   By Calvin Schwartz NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: An Afternoon with Singer/Songwriter Robin DeLorenzo at Jankland Recording Studio. April 13th 2014 By Calvin Schwartz(0)

NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: An Afternoon with Singer/Songwriter Robin DeLorenzo at Jankland Recording Studio. April 13th 2014   By Calvin Schwartz



I always marvel at how events and wondrous connections in the course of my life develop. What am I saying? A few weeks ago I got a phone call from my friend Rock N Tommy, acclaimed oldies disc jockey who invited me to a recording session at Jankland Recording Studio (a fabulous story and place in itself) with Americana singer/songwriter Robin DeLorenzo, who was recording her new CD due out in May, “Walkin Miles in My Shoes.” My journalistic sense governed and I was grateful and accepted the invite. Tara-Jean Vitale (NJ Discover producer and my co-host on our NJ Discover Live Radio Show) and I embarked on a unique journey to the studio.





I love walking through a regular unassuming door into a magical musical historic world of recording expertise; yes a little like Calvin or Alice in Wonderland through that rabbit hole portal. Suddenly Tara-Jean and I were in a special world. Steve Jankowski, whose music resume and historic accomplishments are daunting, (current Musical Director for the legendary horn band Blood Sweat and Tears) greeted us with warm hospitality. The walls surrounding the outer office were museum like with Steve’s many musical achievements; we were indeed in very special environs. Tommy introduced us to Robin DeLorenzo who just walked in from the tracking room and iso- room beyond. Instant chemistry and bonding; we were drawn into her warmth and sincerity; her voice magnetized; indeed a singer. Soon three accomplished classical artists arrived; Claudia Chopek and Hillary Castle (violins) and Jennifer DeVore (cello). I wandered around awe-struck as they warmed-up; the music emanating for Robin’s song, “Pink Ribbon Angels” was haunting. A week later Robin sent me the instrumental version from this classical segment; I keep listening and getting magic carpeted away.





Just before Robin’s disappearance to the iso-room in the back for the recording of “Pink Ribbon Angels” we had a chance to chat briefly on a sofa in the office. Her new CD, “Walkin Miles in my Shoes” is due out in May. There are 12 songs which detail the last four years of her life including the breakup of her 23 year marriage. Her effervescence and exuberance was evident. She talked about a song “It Does Something” which she co-wrote with Manny Charlton from Nazareth, the Scottish hard rock band. “It’s about a woman feeling frisky and being the aggressor. The way you move, the way you groove. It does something.”

Then she talked about the song I was going to hear recorded, “Pink Ribbon Angels,” co-written with John Rehmel. “It’s about cancer. You fight with love. Live by faith. Do whatever it takes. Cancer won’t make us break.” Funny thing; you can tell people things from a few intense minutes sitting eye to eye; Robin is passionate, soulful and something intrinsic grabs and holds on to you as you listen. Minutes later I heard a few takes of the song; it did hold you and the music accompaniment and her resounding heartfelt voice kept me standing in the corner listening to take after take. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome but I didn’t want to leave. It was an extraordinary musical interlude for me. Robin and Steve and I are now friends; my time there was poignant and possessed beyond wildest dreams. As I was leaving, Robin still in the iso-room, I turned to Steve Jankowski and said “I’ll be back.” He said “I’d love that. Just let me know.”  And I marveled about my day all the way home.


Robin DeLorenzo contact info:


Steve Jankowski and Jankland Recording Studio Contact Info:




NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: ‘You’ve Got a Friend’; Steve Conboy, CEO, ECO Building Products and the World’s Tallest Sandcastle at Jersey Shore and Lumber and so Much More. By Calvin Schwartz    November 9, 2013 NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: ‘You’ve Got a Friend’; Steve Conboy, CEO, ECO Building Products and the World’s Tallest Sandcastle at Jersey Shore and Lumber and so Much More. By Calvin Schwartz November 9, 2013(1)

NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: You’ve Got a Friend; Steve Conboy, CEO, ECO Building Products and the World’s Tallest Sandcastle at Jersey Shore and Lumber and so Much More.   By Calvin Schwartz    November 9, 2013





Three weeks prior to the October 29th ceremony with a representative from Guinness World Records adjudicating the World’s Tallest Sandcastle at Point Pleasant Beach, I had a chance to interview the world renowned sculptor Ed Jarrett, who had just started construction of the sandcastle. I also knew that much of the practical realization of this most amazing accomplishment came from the sponsorship and support of Steve Conboy, CEO of ECO Building Products. As I walked around the circumference of the base of the sandcastle, I saw a red wood sign structure on the adjacent beach acknowledging the essence of this magical company, ECO Building Products, who’ve been supportive of rebuilding the Jersey shore after Sandy. The sign radiated the message, “Fire, mold, termite, and rot protected lumber.” “The best defensive lumber in the industry”  Maybe a hundred seagulls congregated just behind the sign as if they sensed being in a safe environment.
ECO CEO Steve Conboy’s Segment at the Sand Castle Evevnt

As a journalist, I set my future sights on spending time interviewing charismatic Steve Conboy. And that opportunity came on the celebration day on October 29th, when the intricate 40 foot sandcastle was being measured by Philip Robertson from Guinness World Records to certify yet another world record accomplishment for Ed Jarrett. Several hours before the start of proceedings, while a chilly pre-winter wind blew in off the Atlantic Ocean, Steve Conboy, Steve Cassidy, from New York City Fire Department and I stood in front of the sandcastle, squinting in bright sunshine and talking about ECO Building Products and a new ‘wood’ world.

Conboy and his company came here to support the Jersey shore’s rebuilding efforts and the sandcastle too. They’ve got an amazing product and believe passionately in giving back and sharing. When Conboy started to explain his philosophy, I watched intently as his face exploded in emotion; his hands painted a picture for me that ECO Red Shield coatings on lumber is an eco-friendly (which I really love, being an environmentalist) and cost-effective alternative for protection against mold, termites, rot and fire. He told me there are no hazardous chemicals involved. His hands swept in a full circle as he talked about his goal; the protection with his ECO Red Shield lumber replacing raw lumber to become the standard in future wood construction projects. Of course I added an, “Oh wow.” It is a wow. Steve Cassidy from New York City Fire Department explained how Red Shield treated lumber in new construction projects and even applied to existing wood structures can save lives and property by resisting fire; a huge no brainier, as I thought immediately.

Good reporters do research. I knew about Steve Conboy spending time and giving ECO products to people and projects in Haiti and in New Orleans. Giving back is a soulful expression and his unique way to build a successful company. Conboy, who is a native New Yorker, has had nearly 35 years in the lumber business world and started ECO in 2007. He explained that there is this great need for change in the industry.

I asked about his treated lumber being embraced by the retail world. Indeed, retail loves Red Shield as it protects wood from mold growth while on retail storage shelves and therefore reduces financial risks. And Conboy reiterated to me that his coatings can be applied to existing structures very cost effectively.

This blew me away. Raw lumber sales in 2012 approached $94 Billion which means there is a huge opportunity for incredible growth. It also means lots of lumber today on shelves may have mold growth. Then I told both Conboy and Cassidy an interesting anecdote. I love relevant anecdotes in the middle of an interview with the sun shining on my face.  When I wrote my original article for NJ Discover’s website and Facebook page link about the Sandcastle and ECO Building Products sponsorship, one of our Facebook friends was intrigued and googled ECO. Based on everything he read, the next day he purchased several thousand shares of ECO stock. A week later, he met NJ Discover’s producer, Tara-Jean Vitale for lunch and convinced her to buy stock in ECO. Our Facebook friend just celebrated his 80th birthday.

I could’ve talked with Steve for another hour but the celebration was near. I watched Conboy’s face light up as a color guard raised the flag for the National Anthem. He’s as passionate and dedicated a CEO as I’ve ever met in my travels. His passion is contagious. The ceremony continued with Frank Dicopoulos’ upbeat emceeing and introductions of Ed Jarrett, Hometown Heroes (a New Jersey based amazing charity) Michael Schwartz and Jennifer Barna, of course Steve Conboy and Steve Cassidy and then comedian Mike Marino and a moving musical performance by Nick Clemons. Perhaps six hundred people gathered on the beach for the lighting ceremony commemorating the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.  I sensed that in the very near future every one of those folks on the beach will have an awareness of ECO Building Products and I started to think  about the song, ‘You’ve got a Friend.’ I know most of the words. “You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am.” It kind of sums up what Steve Conboy and ECO Building did to make this special day in Point Pleasant possible. I looked; the seagulls were still there by the ECO red wood sign.


and Cal Schwartz, writer:   NJ    and   and Facebook: Cal Schwartz













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