October 23, 2021

Springtime sizzle

Residents bring grills to front yard in cookout event

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Marguerite Pierce grills sausages Saturday in front of her home on Harrington Avenue in Cortland. Pierce and other residents cooked as part of Oscar Mayer’s Front Yard Cookout day.

Marguerite Pierce stood attentively over her grill Saturday, watching sausage patties cook.

Down the street from her Harrington Avenue, Cortland, home, others were doing the same.

“Everybody’s out,” she said. “The kids are out. It’s all good.”

Pierce and others across the city took part enjoying the day’s warm weather and being outside grilling during the Oscar Mayer Front Yard Cookout event.

The event, which started Saturday and runs through the end of the month, asks people to bring their grills to the front yard and share meals with neighbors. For those participating who use the hashtag #FrontYardCookout on Twitter, Kraft Heinz, which owns Oscar Mayer, will donate 10 cents per hashtag to Feeding America, the country’s largest nonprofit hunger relief organization.

Cortland’s event was created Wednesday by Sarah Woodard, who lives on West Main Street, after learning about it two weeks ago from her husband, Steve.

She posted about it on the social networking website Nextdoor, where it quickly gained interest with more than 20 people promising to take part.

“It’s just something for all of us to feel a little connected while we’re so far apart,” she said.

While sitting in her driveway and talking and eating with her family, Woodard said people would honk their car horns or wave as they passed by.

“I just think that’s a connection we’re all kind of missing right now,” she said. “This is just kind of a fun way to be with your family and just hang out.”

For Pierce, the day served as a good way to connect with her grandkids, whom she hadn’t seen in two months.

The nice weather was also a plus, she said.

Cooking and enjoying hot dogs and hamburgers in their front yard also gave Krystal and Phil Thorhauem, who also live on Harrington Avenue, a chance to talk to their neighbors who they hadn’t seen in months, Krystal Thorhauer said.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”

She also saw it as a chance to meet new neighbors who she hadn’t spoken to before, including college students next door.

“It’s great because the kids aren’t normally here,” she said. “They’re kind of forced to be here now and we interact with them and I think it’s very good we have the students in our community.”

As the weather gets warmer, she said, and perhaps as the virus dies down, she will be able to be outside more, eating and talking to neighbors.