CEDAR FALLS — After 16 years, a Cedar Falls High School tradition came to an end on Friday.
The First Christian Church, right next to the high school, has been hosting a Homecoming Day BBQ since 2006.
Gary Chambers has run the event from the start and said it was the last year.
“The congregation is getting old and shrinking,” he noted. “Prices have also doubled.”
Before COVID-19, Chambers said, he paid around $1,100 for burgers, hot dogs, buns, condiments, chips and soft drinks. This year, he paid over $2,000.
He said the decision was made when the new high school in Cedar Falls was to open next year. Now that date has been pushed back.
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Unfortunately, there was a downpour during Friday’s barbecue, but that didn’t stop the 20 church volunteers. Ten volunteers from Northern Iowa University’s ThreeHouse Collaborative Campus Ministries also attended.
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The volunteers arrived around 8am to set the tables, organize the snacks and start cooking. The storm of high school students arrived around 11:15 a.m.
Chambers said he started prepping for the barbecue three weeks ago, ordering everything from fries to condiments.
“Kids eat a lot of ketchup,” he said.
Twenty other volunteers baked homemade cookies and bars.
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To accommodate all students, four service lines were opened under tents. The students received their hot dogs and burgers in the rain and headed inside the church for the pastries.
Two elderly people, Lakin Straw and Taylor Long, sat on a bench as they enjoyed their lunch.
“That’s so sweet,” Long commented, of the effort put into the barbecue.
They said it was their third barbecue. The event was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think I speak for everyone at school that everyone is very grateful for that,” Straw said.
The church hosts other events like a “Trunk-or-Treat” and a chili cook off, and Chambers said he hopes to continue bringing events like this to the community.
Photos: September 21 Sullivan, Hartogh, Davis Cedar Valley Honor Flight
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