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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jun 29, 2020

Expectant Parents Embrace Responsible Celebration and Small Business Support

By Shanna O'Mara

During the past few months, the world had all but stopped while life continued in quiet isolation. No one told the flowers to stop blooming or the waves to stop gently crashing against the sandy shore. Nature kept on course as people moved through life with new worries, new restrictions but also new excitements. For one local couple, life continued during the pandemic, and they weren’t about to lose sight of what mattered most.

Amanda and Kevin Keelen found out months ago that they were expecting a baby on July 16. These first-time parents were overjoyed by the news and chose a name for their little girl.

“We picked a name, Maeve Marie, which actually means ‘one who brings joy’ in Gaelic,” Kevin said. “Amanda always loved that name, so we’ve known that would be it for a while. It doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence anymore.”

Before even entering the world, Maeve Marie brought joy to her parents, family and all those eager to love and protect her. On June 7, Kevin’s aunt, Mary Connelly, held a surprise baby shower outside her home in Colts Neck for her nephew and his glowing wife. Despite the social gathering restrictions, Connelly knew she wanted to do something special for the growing family.

“They’re so lovely,” Connelly gushed. “I wanted them to be able to celebrate. The idea of a drive-by baby shower just kind of popped up.”

Although Kevin had originally been planning a party at The Dublin House in Red Bank, he knew that was no longer an option and dove into plan B. He, Connelly and a few of Amanda’s friends began working out the details for an outdoor, drive-by baby shower. For two months, they worked with local businesses to ensure everything would be perfect.

Addison Sargisoff, of Holmdel, designed the invitations. With decorations from Party Land in Shrewsbury and gifts from The Gem in Colts Neck, the event was sure to be a hit. Amanda, Kevin and their guests enjoyed food from Antoinette Boulangerie in Red Bank and sweet treats from Lexylicious Ice Cream Sandwiches, based in Point Pleasant. Connelly shared that 50 loved ones drove by to congratulate the couple, drop off gifts and enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Some even stayed, at a safe distance, to see family and friends they hadn’t been able to visit in months.

“It was really nice, a great turnout,” Kevin said. “I have to thank my parents, Aunt Mary and Uncle Jimmy. We’re so thankful for our family and all those who braved this to come out and support us. It means so much. That’s really the only word that comes to mind, thankful.”

As he and Amanda prepared to welcome their daughter into an uncertain and recovering world, Kevin had some thoughts about his family.

“This has obviously been a hard year,” he said. “For us, it’s exciting and nerve-wracking not knowing what is going to happen in the world, but we don’t let our focus drift away from the joy and love we feel for our baby.”