EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green started a new summer tradition in the city by hosting the first Mayor’s Community Cookout at the Campus High School grounds on Saturday, July 27.
According to Parks Superintendent Dennis James, of the Department of Public Works, who served as the official “grill master” by manning the grills, along with fellow DPW employee Jace Brooks, they cooked approximately 2,000 hot dogs and hamburgers at the inaugural event. And James paid a very personal price to help Green.
“My hat got burnt,” said James on Sunday, July 28. “There was about 1,500 hamburgers, hot dogs, close to 2,000. ShopRite, Extra, a lot of stores in the community donated and everything, so it turned out nice. Over 50 watermelons that we cut. Five big bags of corn that we shucked and put on the grill and we’re still out here still working.”
“I think the mayor did a good job,” said James on Saturday, July 27. “I’m looking around and observing while I’m cooking. The family and everybody is out here. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s an open field, with plenty of room. It’s a good thing that we came out today. Thank God that it was a wonderful day.”
Despite the good good vibes at the event, James said there was one thing that put a damper on it for him personally.
“Somebody owes me a hat,” James joked.
Green, who is known for his sense of humor, said James’ hat was a source of concern for him, too, despite the overall success of the cookout.
“Dennis did an excellent job today. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been having events throughout the city and, any time we call on Dennis, he’s always here for the community,” said Green on Saturday, July 27. “But Dennis is like the community cook. When it comes to that grill, he’s the grill master. We appreciate him. We just hope that, when we ate a hamburger or a turkey burger today, it wasn’t his hat.”
All jokes aside, Green said he was happy with the large turnout for his first Mayor’s Community Cookout and thanked all who were involved.
“Everybody came out today. We continue to try to have social programs to bring people out, so our young people, our seniors and our adults can get together, and we network and we talk to each other,” Green said. “We had a great today at the Mayor’s first annual Citywide Cookout. We had over 1,500 to 2,000 people came out. We had community volunteers that came out from our Police Department, Fire Department, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training, the Health Department, OEM, Joi’s Angels and others. We had volunteers from my office and just from all over. We had just a great day here in the city of East Orange.”