Game on at INIC’s pre-Thanksgiving Community Luncheon

Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, Mayor Tony Vauss, Deputy Public Service Department Director John Brown and PSD Director Tracy Bowers make plates to serve to the hungry and needy on Tuesday, Nov. 20, during the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation’s annual pre-Thanksgiving Community Dinner at the charitable organization’s headquarters on 16th Avenue.

IRVINGTON, NJ — The annual pre-Thanksgiving Community Luncheon at Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation headquarters on 16th Avenue on Tuesday, Nov. 20, drew rave reviews, amid some heated rivalries between fans of the National Football League.

“I’m just enjoying the food. That’s all it is,” said Jermain Anthony, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan who was wearing a jacket and hat sporting his favorite team’s logo, while sitting across the table from Murad, a proud Dallas Cowboys fan. “I think it’s very nice that the mayor and the INIC got together to do this for the community. They’re feeding the community and doing a lot for the community.”

Although Anthony admitted it was difficult to share a table with a Cowboys fan, he said it was a small price to pay for a free holiday meal.

“I was always told that cows were girls and bulls were boys,” said Anthony. “So how did they come up with Cowboys? It’s supposed to be ‘Cowgirls.’”

Murad said the only thing he and Anthony had in common, aside from their favorite teams’ rivalry, was the great meal they shared.

“I’m hoping that they play good on Thanksgiving Day, so that we can meet them in the Super Bowl,” said Murad. “I want some redemption.”

Another attendee at the INIC luncheon, a fan of the Baltimore Ravens football team, said his team has an even bigger rivalry with the Steelers than the Cowboys do, but agreed it was OK to set aside football rivalries for the sake of a free Thanksgiving meal.

Lamans Terry, a Washington Redskins fan, sat directly across from Qadirah Smith, a Giants fan. “Rivalries disappear and people come together for the holidays. It also helps to have good food.”

The Cowboys beat the Redskins 31-23 on Thursday, Nov. 22. And Smith said she can’t help but harbor a friendly grudge against the Ravens for beating her Giants in the 2000 Super Bowl.

“We’re going to pay them back for beating us in the Super Bowl a few years ago,” said Smith on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Terry said good food bridges all gaps and brings people together during the holidays, especially when it’s free.

“Good food always brings everybody out,” said Terry on Tuesday, Nov. 20. “This is good for the community. Most people out here they don’t have food, they don’t have nowhere to go, so this is a place where they can eat and communicate with other individuals from the community. So it’s good for people like that. It’s good to feed people.”

“This was a total Team Irvington Strong effort, with members of the Fire Department and the Police Department that are standing by, trimming boxes filled with stuffing, vegetables, cranberry juice, rice and macaroni and cheese that goes with the turkeys and the hens that we’re giving away,” said Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation Director Deborah Simpkins on Tuesday, Nov. 20, echoing what she had said at last year’s luncheon. “The Fire Department and the Police Department every year collaborate with us and help us be able to provide the families in Irvington with a full Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody works together and helps out.”

This year’s event also featured music provided by gospel music producer and director George Sykes.

“I would like to thank Director Deborah Simpkins for doing an outstanding job once again serving the people in our community,” said Mayor Tony Vauss on Sunday, Nov. 25. “Each year, I look forward to breaking bread with members of our community, some that are fortunate and some that are less fortunate. We all come together to enjoy each other’s company.”