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Sertoma Club of Lancaster Will Host Largest U.S. Chicken Barbecue: May 20 event will support Long’s Park and community programs

Apr 4th, 2017 | By | Category: Front Page, News

LANCASTER (Apr. 3, 2017) – The Sertoma Club of Lancaster will host the nation’s largest chicken barbecue on Saturday, May 20, at Long’s Park in Lancaster.

The barbecue, now in its 65th year, has raised $1.7 million for beautification, maintenance and construction at the park since the event began in 1953.

Other beneficiaries of the barbecue’s 2017 proceeds will be Compass Mark’s Kids Kamp for children who live with substance abuse, hearing screenings for children enrolled in Head Start, and several more community programs. The Sertoma Club will also donate the first 1,500 chicken dinners to charitable organizations that provide food for people in need within the Lancaster community.

Hundreds of volunteers will begin gathering on Friday, the day before, to set up and begin organizing the contents of 23,200 dinners and preparing to barbecue the chickens. Each dinner will include a chicken half, banana, dinner roll, bag of chips, bag of pretzels, apple sauce cup, pack of licorice, ice cream cup and cold drink.

The Sertoma chicken barbecue is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. to be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records and was once certified as the largest in the world.

“We spend months preparing for this day, and it wouldn’t be successful without more than 500 volunteers who give close to 4,000 total hours of their personal time,” said Jim Arnold, chair of this year’s barbecue. In addition to Sertoma members and their families, people of all ages from across the Lancaster community pitch in to help. For examples, Kids Camp youth will be helping with overnight preparations and Boy Scouts will be assisting with overnight security.

The chicken barbecue will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost of each meal is $10 in advance and $12 on the day of the barbecue. The event also will feature a family fun area where children can enjoy a bounce house and other inflatable structures.

According to Arnold, “The first Sertoma chicken barbecue in 1953 raised $137, but the event grew and grew, with our goal always being to exceed $100,000—730 times the original amount.“ He added, “We have reached that goal in the past, and I hope we can repeat that achievement this year.”

The event has raised more than $2 million since it began, with most of the money going to Long’s Park. This year, Long’s Park will receive 70 percent of the event’s proceeds.

Over the years, barbecue proceeds have provided the park with playgrounds, including one accessible for all children; restrooms; wetlands and an environmental trail; care for animals in the petting zoo; and maintenance of the pond, amphitheater, picnic tables, park benches, lawns and trees.

Sertoma also uses funds from the barbecue to host the Conestoga View Christmas party and organize the annual Naturalization Day Luncheon for new citizens of Lancaster County.

To get tickets, stop by your area Turkey Hill Minit Market or see a Sertoma Club of Lancaster member. Beginning mid-April, you can order your tickets online at To volunteer, email or call 875-7012. See volunteer opportunities here.

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