Hamming it up

Steaks, eggs also on menu at War Memorial breakfast

Steaks, eggs also on menu at War Memorial breakfast

September 05, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Labor Day dawned bright and fair Monday at War Memorial Park, with the only haze in the air coming from the smoke of steaks and country ham cooking on the grills.

The annual breakfast has been a tradition at the park since 1947, when the park first became public, said Steve Catlett, executive director of Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation.

For 40 years, the event was sponsored by the War Memorial Park Association, Catlett said.

"We took over in 1987," he said.

At first, the proceeds from the breakfast went to the maintenance of the park, Catlett said. Now, under the parks department, maintenance is part of regular duties.

"All proceeds now go to capital improvements - new projects and new equipment," he said.

The popularity of the annual breakfast is undeniable.

"We've never had more advance ticket sales than this year," Catlett said. "People can see where their money is going."


The cost of a ticket for steak or country ham and all the fixings was $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

In addition to the good food, there is the renewing of friendships and multigenerational family ties at the event. This year was no exception.

"I come every year," said Fred Harris, who was enjoying his hearty breakfast in the park's main pavilion. "I remember when it was just $5, but it's for a good cause, and it's good fun."

Harris said he believes War Memorial Park is a great park for a town the size of Martinsburg.

Bobby Criswell arrived alone, but soon was joined by several members of his family for the breakfast.

"I'm here to eat with my kids - it's a great event, and I come every year," Criswell said.

A first-timer to the breakfast, Terri Miskovsky, interim mayor of Hedgesville, was impressed with the personal service, which began with a volunteer taking her order, delivering the order to her table, then checking back to make sure all was well.

"My first bite of my steak was very good," Miskovsky said.

Among those servers was Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely, who said she has been volunteering for almost 17 years.

This year, her son, Jason Neely, 15, was taking his first turn as a volunteer server.

"I'm excited about it," Jason said.

Berkeley County Magistrate JoAnn Overington said volunteering at the annual breakfast is something she is glad to do each year.

"It gives me a chance to sharpen up my serving skills," Overington said. "And it's a lot of fun."

Catlett said he is convinced the breakfast is a success every year because the park is special to the people who use it.

"The reason is it all goes back to the park," Catlett said.

Since last year's breakfast, several projects have been completed, including a new war memorial, a retaining wall connecting the bleachers with the walkway to the pool and a new entrance sign.

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