African-Americans affiliated with Greek sororities came out to Eastside Park on Saturday afternoon for the 9th Annual Greek Masonic Community Cookout.
Kim Wimberly, the wife of the assemblyman and an organizer of the event, said it was a community event to have people gather in the park for a day of enjoyment.
“Community here is a blessing,” said Moses McKenzie, vice principal at School 6. Mr McKenzie has been attending the event since it first started some 9 years ago. He comes mainly for the food, saying, “You can taste different styles of food.” There certainly was many different styles of food all of them hot off the grill.
Rap music blasted from stereo speakers as one of the 9 sororities responsible for the event had its members do what is called stepping, a peculiar, half-military and half-dance style of performance, where the members are in a formation stomping the ground as if it owed something.
Attendees formed a circle around the stepping group as they completed their ritual with shouts, claps, and stomps.
Lorren Cargill, of West Orange, who attended the event with his girlfriend, says it’s like a reunion where he sees familiar old face. “I may not see him for six month, but I will see him here,” said Mr Cargill referring to a friend who he only sees about once a year during this event.
Most like Mr Cargill, who are associated with a sorority, wore the specific color of the organization to delineate themselves from others at the event. Other than the 9 Greek letter organizations there were the Masons out of their lodge on Broadway who helped found the annual event.
The first annual Greek Masonic Community Cookout started when, “Assembly man Benjie Wimberly just got everybody together, and decided to do it. We found out that we have more Greeks around Paterson than we thought,” according to Alton Dickson, a captain at the Paterson Fire Department. Mr Dickson, who normally has to put out fire for living, was burning one today as he grilled chicken for the attendees. The food at the event was free of charge, for the sponsoring organizations chipped in to ensure everyone is provided for with provisions.
It was not just about food and music, there was a voter registration booth at the event where those who are not registered to vote could fill out the papers to be eligible voters for November. Elections in Paterson have abysmally low turn outs, having more registered votes might help curb this trend; and it certainly is good on the part of the organizers to promote good citizenship by getting residents registered to vote after enjoying a grilled drumstick.
The event was sponsored by Paterson Recreation and Paterson Team Hope. After 9 years the event has almost become a part of Paterson garnering hundreds of attendees each year and growing.
“Everybody looks forward to it every year,” said Mr Dickson.