Firefighters’ barbecue a hit in Racine

A long line wraps around the fire station.

Racine Fire Station advertises the “Best BBQ Chicken in Town”

Smoke wafts through the air as chicken cooks on the grill.

Volunteers prepare the boxed lunches.

RACINE — Area residents stood in line Saturday to purchase boxed lunches containing what was advertised as the “Best BBQ Chicken in Town.”

As long as most can remember, many people said the Racine Volunteer Fire Department has grilled BBQ chicken on the Fourth of July.

The Fourth of July parade route begins on main street and turns to pass the fire station. It’s then that everyone gets their first whiff of smoke from the fire pit.

According to Doug Reese, a Racine firefighter, the chicken is marinated in the fire department’s homemade sauce.

“We make our own sauce,” Reese said. “It’s our own recipe.”

In what has become a tradition, the line begins to form as soon as the parade passes spectators on Main Street.

“This is the best chicken in the area,” Beverly Cunningham, a resident of Cottageville, W.Va., said. “We come every year to watch the parade and to get chicken. I waited in line an hour and it was worth the wait.”

Others agreed; no one seemed to complain and since most people in line knew each other, they said it was a good time to “visit.”

The chicken was served with homemade sides of potato salad, baked beans and rolls, and homemade ice cream was also available. An assembly line kept the boxed lunches rolling, with about 700 sold.

“We purchased 350 chickens and each lunch included half a BBQ chicken,” volunteer firefighter Ian Wise said. “And we sold out.”

Lorna Hart can be reached at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2551