COVID, Teen Saved From Car Fire: Monmouth’s Top Stories In 2020

Nicole Rosenthal

MONMOUTH COUNTY - The year 2020 brought an unfathomable 365 days of death, illness, unemployment, and business and school shutdowns in Monmouth County. From sweeping storefront closures across the state to thousands of students learning remotely for the first time to over 1,000 beloved county residents lost to the disease, virtually no local has been left untouched by the pandemic’s harsh effects.

But the same year that saw tragedy also brought community, perseverance and new beginnings. Students in Hazlet performed a socially-distanced masked drama. Despite the circumstances, new local businesses popped up in Hazlet, Holmdel and Howell. Middletown teens rescued young siblings from a frozen pond, and a Manalapan dad walked from Washington D.C. to Old Bridge to raise funding for a cure for his 11-year-old son’s fatal disease. During a year of uncertainty and fear, Monmouth County residents continue to lift each other up.

Here are the top stories that defined Monmouth County in 2020:

Marlboro PD Saves Young Woman From Burning Car

Last summer, two Marlboro police officers saved a young Freehold resident trapped inside a burning vehicle.

Monmouth Chef Takes Catering Biz From Private Jets To NJ Homes
Before the pandemic, Michael Farber catered exquisite meals on private jets. Now, he's emulating the same experience for NJ locals.

Freehold Teen Debuts Online Mini Cheesecake Shop Amid Pandemic
18-year-old Jared Blumer turned a cheesecake recipe gone wrong into the basis for his own small business.

Ink Therapy: After Reopening, Monmouth Tattoo Shops Get Personal

"For some people it's almost like therapy. I have several clients that are in some form of recovery, and they move to body art."

Face Masks Required At Manalapan Wegmans? Store Reps Say No
While NJ has ordered face masks at stores, store reps at the Manalapan Wegmans are telling people that masks are only recommended.

Freehold Resident, A 'Grandma To Everyone,' Celebrates 100 Years
"She has four biological grandchildren and two great grandchildren, but there are dozens of people who call her 'Yia Yia'".

After Mom's Diagnosis, Marlboro Student Raises $1K For MS Charity
Laila Potosky combined her love for crafts and business to sell handmade bracelets, donating all proceeds to the National MS Society.

Manalapan Dad To Walk From D.C. To NJ For Son With Rare Disease

"The doctors told us … just love him until he passes, but that's not something I can accept. I choose to fight every day for him."

83-Year-Old EMT Still Saving Lives Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Bob Bliss, 83, served as Holmdel First Aid Squad's chief from 2012 until 2016. Now, he's a squad volunteer with no plans of slowing down.

Freehold Man Linked To Pizza Shop Murder Gets 19 Years In Prison

Hector Calderon of Freehold was sentenced to 19 years in prison on weapons charges tied to a fatal shooting in a Jackson pizza shop.

Monmouth University Removes Woodrow Wilson's Name From Building

The president of the university penned a letter on June 19 to announce the rebranding of Wilson Hall.

Man Admits To Bringing Homemade Explosive To Donovan's Reef

Thomas Kaiser admitted to bringing a homemade explosive to a Sea Bright bar in 2019, prompting an evacuation and canceling a major parade.

The Results Are In: Howell High School's New Mascot Unveiled

Howell High School's Rebel mascot has officially received a new look. After a heated debate last month over the Confederacy-inspired team name and mascot, the new face of Howell High School will draw inspiration from American Revolutionary War rebels.

'Gross Negligence:' Sea Bright Bar Draws Criticism Over Crowding

Scores of partiers without masks crowded Donovan's Reef this summer, drawing criticism from neighboring bar owners and Gov. Phil Murphy.

Here's The Story Behind Colts Neck's Famed 'Christmas House'

It's been called everything from "ugly" to "cursed." Patch caught up with the homeowners to talk about the internet's new favorite house.

29 Arrested In Violent Gang Bust In Monmouth, Ocean: Prosecutor

An investigation into organized crime in the counties has resulted in the arrest of 29. Charges range from dogfighting to attempted murder.

In Wall, Hundreds Protest Racism In Nation And Neighborhood

Hundreds of demonstrators flocked to Wall Township for a June 12 rally to speak out against racial injustice at both the national and neighborhood level.

2 Individuals Linked To 100 Monmouth County Car Burglaries: Cops

2 Monmouth County men were arrested for committing 2 armed robberies and approximately 100 vehicle burglaries, state police said.

Red Bank Mayor Apologizes To Gov. Murphy Over Restaurant Tirade

"The opinions reflected by those two people were not ... the beliefs of the residents and the visitors of Red Bank," Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

Tinton Falls Man: I'm 31 And I Had A Stroke From The Coronavirus

Working daily with COVID patients, this Robert Wood Johnson nurse knew there was a chance he would get the virus. The stroke surprised him.

Monmouth County Mom: My Son Relapsed During The Quarantine

In normal times, it's difficult for this Monmouth County mom to help her son stop using heroin. In the quarantine, it's become a nightmare.

After Fears She'd Be Disabled, Middletown Teen Is 4th In Class

Doctors said she would be born with Down syndrome and severe mental handicaps. This year, Sara Deuidicibus graduated fourth in her class.

It Was A Tornado That Touched Down In Middletown, NWS Confirms

It was indeed a tornado that touched down on the Brookdale college campus and nearby Lincroft area.

Middletown Restaurant Accused Of Breaking Rules While Murphy Ate

While Gov. Murphy dined just steps away on the terrace, the owner said police were on the sidewalk, saying he was violating COVID rules.

Middletown Teens Save Children Who Sledded Into Frozen Pond

An 8-year-old girl and her toddler brother fell into a frozen pond while sledding, and these Middletown teens formed a chain to save them.

This article originally appeared on the Freehold Patch