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Breakfast a Labor Day tradition at Martinsburg park

September 02, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The annual Labor Day breakfast at War Memorial Park is about tradition, and Calvin Kisner is a good example.

Kisner said he has been coming to the War Memorial Park fundraiser for 30 years, and during Monday's breakfast, Kisner recalled walking to the event when he lived in nearby neighborhoods like Lincoln Drive.

Kisner talked about his 31-year career at the Martinsburg post office downtown and his seven siblings, who include his younger brother, William N. "Shug" Kisner, a former Berkeley County sheriff.

That's what the breakfast is about, a time to get together, catch up on each other's families, tell old stories and shake hands with a politician or two.

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And to support the park.

For 59 years, the breakfast has been a way to raise thousands of dollars for the heavily used park along Tennessee Avenue that features a swimming pool, miniature golf and other offerings in a tree-lined atmosphere.

More than 400 people attended the breakfast served from 7 to 10 a.m. and the $25-a-plate meal raised about $7,000, said B.A. "Buzz" Poland, member of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation's board of directors, which runs the park.

The money will be used to upgrade playground equipment on the east side of the park, said Steve Catlett, executive director of the local park board.

As usual, Kisner and others attending the breakfast crowded around tables under a pavilion to feast on mouth-watering steaks, ham, eggs and other fixings.

Kisner said he still enjoys living in Martinsburg, particularly because of its proximity to nearby attractions like Wolf Trap, where he enjoys seeing performances.

"I think it's been a great small town. It's been interesting to watch it grow over the years. I'll probably never leave it," said Kisner, who lives in Foxcroft Meadows.

Kisner paused when Berkeley County Circuit Judge David Sanders, a server during the breakfast, approached his table.

"How's the tips?" Kisner asked.

"Lousy," Sanders said, joking.

The servers for the breakfasts are usually local elected officials and people running for local offices.

Candidates for Berkeley County sheriff, state House of Delegates, circuit judge and other offices worked the crowd on a picture perfect morning.

"It's been steady," said Del. Walter Duke, R-Berkeley, one of the servers.

Although the breakfast is sponsored by the War Memorial Park Association, which ran the park from 1947 to 1987, different organizations volunteer to prepare and serve the food, said Ron Jones, a former Berkeley County Sheriff and member of the Equality 44 chapter of the Freemasons.

Jones said he and other local residents like Bobby Foltz and Doug Fries have been volunteering for the breakfast for years.

In the early days of the event, volunteers cut 40-gallon barrels in half and used them for grills. The cooks used to arrive at the park by 3 a.m. to start charcoal used in the grills.

Cooks now prepare the meals on gas grills.

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation took over management of the park in 1987.

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