By JOANNE PAPAIANNI
The smell of barbecue filled the air along Ocean Avenue in Bradley Beach Sat., Aug. 24 along with the sounds of “Footloose” being played by the first of four DJs lined up for the afternoon.
The first community barbecue, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, drew plenty of locals as well as travelers from upstate New York and North Jersey.
Food vendors who specialize in barbecue lined the promenade as crowds formed to sample the wares of The Chop Shop, Jersey Shore Barbecue, Bacon and Wheels and six others serving a variety of sauces on pork, chicken, Italian sausage, cheese steaks and seafood.
One of the more unusual offerings was chocolate covered bacon, which borough resident Anthony Solimando, completely enjoyed.
“It’s everything, sweet, salty, they complement each other,” he said describing the flavor.
“The turnout is great, the weather is perfect, awesome, we couldn’t have ordered a better day,” said even organizer Michael Hollemans of The Passion Group in Asbury Park.
Hollemans is director of logistics for The Passion Group.
The one-day event was organized by the chamber after the cancellation of the Festa Italiana this year, which was usually held on that weekend.
Hollemans said when deciding on what type of event to hold, a barbecue seemed like the best choice.
“What’s good at the end of the year? A barbecue; it’s a good, family and community event,” he said.
According to Hollemans the event is a fund-raiser to help the chamber make its office on Main Street more accessible.
“They want to have more of a presence on Main Street, be more visible in the community,” he said.
Along with food, several merchants sold their wares including jewelry, soy candles, baseball caps and scarves.
One popular vendor, Moose Tasters, was selling moose treats for dogs.
Making it more of a family event, several bounce houses were lined up on the grass, each with a different theme.
Angie MacCloud of the Shark River Hills section of Neptune, shared a chicken kabob from Mr. Q with her daughter and said, “It’s very good.”
Her friend, Bradley Beach resident Jennifer Barton, agreed and said she walked up to the event to enjoy some barbecue.
Asbury Park couple Stanley and Gwendolyn Thomas couldn’t pass up some good barbecue.
Stanley considers himself a bit of a barbecue gourmet and when asked if his meal met with his approval said with a smile, “I was happy with it.”
Members of the Bradley Beach Elementary School’s eighth grade class held a fund-raiser at the event selling coffee, by the cup or in bags for their Washington, DC trip at the end of the year.
Chamber Secretary Shirley Ayres said she was pleased with the early turnout as lines formed at the food stations and people strolled the promenade shopping or stopping at the Fifth Avenue Gazebo to listen or dance to the music.