LAKEWOOD – More than 1,000 residents came out to enjoy some fantastic food, entertainment and games during the Jackson PBA Pig Roast held in Pine Park, Lakewood. It was the event’s spirit of community, however, that has made the event so popular.
This marked the 18th year for the picnic, according to Township Police Sgt. Fred Meabe who, along with fellow officer Joe Candido, coordinated the large event with the help of many fellow PBA members. The event filled a good portion of Pine Park.
“This began as an event for PBA members and their families but it gradually evolved into an event for the community. It started with a turnout out of about 400 people and today we are expecting around 1,500. When it began it was held in the now defunct Italian-American Club,” Meabe said.
“About 11 years ago it moved here to Pine Park where it could better accommodate everyone. I’ve been involved with the event for the last nine years,” Meabe added.
Meabe said it also gave residents a chance to meet with members of the police department and other service organizations in a friendly setting and to communicate with their neighbors.
Members of the Holbrook Little League were honored on stage for their recent successful season. Team members briefly took center stage for a presentation before they had to depart for a game early on during the five-hour pig roast.
“We’ve attended this event for at least six years now,” resident Pat Riker said. “Our children are grown now but we see some of the parents we used to see years ago. The food is great also.”
Her husband, Jeff Riker, agreed. “I’m a firefighter in town and this event allows you to see a lot of people you know. It truly is a small world when you come out and see so many people you know,” he said.
Residents Jennifer Bracelle and Cori Grisi echoed those comments. They are regulars at the event.
“We come every year. I’d say for the last 10 years at least,” Bracelle said.
“I have a lot of the (PBA Pig Roast) shirts Grisi said. “The food is fantastic and this is the first year that they have a pizza truck.”
The two were in line for the REO pizza truck owned and operated by longtime Jackson residents Randy Johnson, Danny Black and Ed Brown. The truck was originally built in 1948 but remade and given the name REO after the popular band REO Speed Wagon, Johnson said. The pizza truck is part of many festivals at the Laurita Winery in Plumsted, which Johnson co-owns.
“This is the first time we are doing this. We started the pizza truck in May and we are prepared to make 800 pizzas to give away today,” Johnson said.
Josephine Corbiscello said that the event shows the kind of cooperation there is with the various organizations that come out to support it. While PBA members roasted pigs, members of the Jackson Rotary and Kiwanis clubs prepared hamburgers, hot dogs and Italian sausages.
Corbiscello is a member of the Rotary but she donned an apron to help out the Kiwanis members during the day. “I’ve done this for three or four years now. It is a nice community event that everyone enjoys. I fill in where needed be it helping to cook or cleaning something up. I’ve lived in Jackson since 1992 and it is a wonderful community and I am very proud of it.”
Angela Rudow and Brianna Bennion, both 16, and students of Jackson Liberty High School were also helping out at the event in their roles as members of the Key Club, a youth group of the Jackson Kiwanis Club.
“This is our first time helping out at this event and it is a lot of fun,” Angela said. “We are helping to refill the food and clean up. We have four or five members here today.”
Brianna said that this was her third year as a Key Club member and that the activity helped them gain volunteer hours for their school’s honor society.
Jackson Kiwanis Club President Lois Kapp said that in years past their members had the responsibility of cooking the pigs for the pig roast but she was perfectly content with their role in cooking Italian sausage, chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers and helping out where they could. “It is an event where everyone comes together to help out and provides a chance for people to see each other and have a great time.”
Along with all the food, costumed characters, a variety of games, music, gift raffles and several vendors were present to add to the party atmosphere of the afternoon.