Overhead at Ventnor's end of the year City Barbecue: "I spoke to your mother the other day; she is quite a lady!" "Where were you this summer!?" "A man looking for a burger? You've come to the right place."
A line of opaque clouds did not deter crowds and burger lines. Mike Advena, of the Ventnor special events committee, estimated that based on burger and hot dog counts, they had served 900 people. He also said it was meager showing.
"It was a good turnout, but for example, our Memorial Day barbecue, we had about 1,800 to 2,000 people come through here," he said. "We fed that many people."
Fearing rain, they pushed the Labor Day barbecue back to last weekend.
The event, held outside the Ventnor branch of the Atlantic County Library System, featured DJ music, grilling, mingling residents, and kids chucking water bottles at each other's heads.
This is the fifth summer that Advena and his committee have organized Ventnor events.
"We started it to bring Ventnor together," he said. "We want people to know that we do have a community, and we started it so that people would know there are things to do."
And they do more than the just the barbecues.
"We also do the movies, and the band on the beach," he said. "The idea that I wanted there, was for people to get the understanding that every weekend in Ventnor, there's something to do. So it alternates every week, band, movie, band, movie … We do barbecues, we do National Night Out, which is huge. I started Hooked on Ventnor fishing. We're planning another Ventnor surf fishing event for the first time, that'll be in the middle of October."
He said that 500 people came out to watch a movie on the beach after National Night Out this summer.
Advena said he loves meeting people from his community.
"It's great. We pick up more volunteers," he said. "There was someone that I saw at National Night Out that I hadn't seen since I was kid. I wouldn't even recognize him. But he recognized me. It's great. It's absolutely fantastic."
Walter Korzeniewski, one of the many volunteers at the event, gestured toward the tables of people eating and socializing.
"That's what makes it's worth it," he said. "Some of these people have been here since 4:30 p.m. Since before we even really opened. We made a lot of new friends, saw a lot of old friends. We need to get the communities working together. It's just seeing people showing out to these things."
It was 7 p.m. and the DJ grabbed the microphone:
"Have a great fall and a great winter and we'll see you next year!"
And, as if on cue, the clouds turned the sky to a wintry dark.
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