Things have certainly changed over the last 20 years since Henry Tindal, started hosting his Kaboom Celebration of Life Party. Tindal, who has been a Red Bank resident for more than 30 years knows all too well the tradition in town is the Kaboom Fireworks display that is observed on July 3.
However, even more significant to Tindal is that July 3 is the day that he and his then partner, the late Tom Sheahan, received their adopted son, Douglas, 21, who was just over a year old to add to their growing family. Prior to Douglas’ arrival, Tindal and Sheahan had adopted Ronald, who is now 23 years old. Sheahan, who passed away seven years ago, and Tindal were together for 28 years.
The Celebration of Life party started as a way to bring friends and family together that just happened to coincide with the July 3 fireworks and thus the tradition at the Tindal residence was born.
“All of the family came over to see him,” Tindal said, referring to Douglas. “It is all about family, friendship and enjoying life. Throughout the years we’ve lost over 90 percent of our friends to AIDS. The crowd at one point was up to 100 people or more.”
They came from as far as Washington, DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia to attend The Celebration of Life annual event.
Today, although the number of people who attend the annual event has dwindled, Tindal who lives in a small cottage style home right on the Navisink River enjoys his lifestyle on the water.
“Living on the Navisink is the most peaceful thing,” Tindal said. “It is tranquil and such a joy to sit here every evening and have dinner watching the kayakers, fisherman and crabbers.”
The menu for this evening’s gathering is pinto beans, stewed down with smoked turkey served over rice with mushroom gravy and cornbread, along with barbeque ribs, potato salad, baked beans and macaroni and cheese.
Indeed the guests, all old-timers from days gone by, reminisced about how times have changed stating how the fireworks display has become a profit making venture for the town, by reserving prime location and charging those who can afford it by roping off areas for them to see the showcase of fireworks.
Law student, Katrina Thornton, chimes in. “I remember when we had to use carbon paper in IBM Selectric typewriters. “ And here we have arrived in the age of computers, where fast food has replaced sit down family style dinners and not much effort is required to access information and what used to be a warm hello and genuine concern for your neighbor is a daunting task.
“The 35 year-old crowd and under don’t understand the struggle,” said Tinton Falls resident, and educator, Robin Thornton. “Crime is going up,” she emphasizes. “You cannot walk around today and not be your brother’s keeper.”
What this reporter is hearing are pleas of a return to a time when people borrowed an egg or two from their neighbor and food pantries were a thing of the future. Today, Tindal’s Celebration of Life party provides the same good food and laughter of times gone by and the spirited chatter about the good life is refreshing.