A snowy and windy morning could not keep the throngs of people away from Saturday’s barbecue chicken fundraiser by Cortland’s Disabled American Veterans Chapter 153.
Originally scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m., people lined up a half-hour early to buy meals of chicken, potatoes and macaroni salad, said Richard Woodrome, the president of Cortland’s chapter.
“It’s been insane,” he said. “It’s been extremely positive and I’ve been yelling at everybody to keep their distance.”
Most of the 235 chicken halves that were cooked were sold by 11:45 a.m.
To maintain safety, Woodrome had volunteers wear masks and gloves, and try to stay 6 feet apart for social distancing, he said.
As a further precaution, the plan was to bring the boxes of food to people while they waited in their cars, though many got out to wait.
Proceeds from the event would go to helping maintain the chapter’s two vans, which are used to transport veterans who can’t drive to places like the Veterans Affairs hospital in Syracuse, Woodrome said.
“With the present situation and everything and the weather the way it is, people are ready for some summer food,” said Norm Stitzel, a trustee and chaplain of the chapter. “And I don’t think you can get anymore upstate New York than chicken barbecue.”
Stitzel said that the chapter usually has three or four barbecue chicken fundraisers a year along with sales from the chapter’s bar going to help fund its needs. The chapter’s bar, though, has had to close because of the pandemic.
“Even though it’s slowing down because of this situation, we got to be ready for when they open it up because then there is going to be a massive rush for guys to get to the clinic and hospital and we have to be ready for them,” he said.
“I think it’s great,” said Sheryl Stockton, of Cortland, who said she was in line to support the organization because her family has a long line of veterans.
“It’s good for the country,” said Linda Edwards of Virgil. “The military needs to be supported. Not only the ones who are overseas but the ones in the past who have served the country.”