Chicken Barbecue a red-hot smoking success

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Close to 2,000 people chowed down at the 50th annual Fire Department’s Chicken Barbecue at St. Gabe’s field.

“It was a banner year for the Chicken Barbecue,” according to Chief John D’Amato, speaking about the traditional community feast held Saturday at St. Gabe’s field.

The firefighters and auxiliary members fed 1,918 people. Figures aren’t yet in forexactly how much money raised for th department, but the chief said the barbecues typically pull in between $25,000 and $35,000.

As for the refrain heard every year about how this is the last time, the chief said that’s typical after six days of setup prior to the event. But once everything was cleaned up Saturday night after the event, there was unanimous agreement that it had been a wonderful experience, he said.

“It’s not about the money,” Chief D’Amato said. “It’s about the community,” a view shared by many who participate who have said in the past they come out because it’s a chance to catch up with friends they may not have seen yet this summer.

There are other ways to raise $30,000, the chief said. But the importance the barbecue has for the community is why it will continue, he said. Marking its 50th year, there were at least three generations of families at the tables, he said.