When it comes to fire, usually the guys with the big red trucks are the heroes. But last Saturday, at the Jack Bones Equestrian Center on the north edge of Pitchess Detention Center, the ones burning it up were from East LA.
East LA. Sheriff’s station, that is.
They came away winners of the perpetual Grand Masters Trophy at the sheriff’s department’s annual Fun In The Sun Chili Cookoff, with their fiery blend of meat and spices.
More than 5,000 people savored the good time, both with the heat of the day and the savory samplings offered by 21 different booths, sponsored by sheriff’s substations, auxiliary services or other community supporters.
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Each booth was decorated to show their spirit, featuring characters and enthusiasm that was all over the map. Pirate wenches called out to passerby to try their concoctions and Scream-faced ghouls from Custody Services served up their special recipe. USC fans got to enjoy a viewing lounge where a big-screen TV showed the game and Chopper Chili from Pitchess Detention Center East was a popular stop. Last year’s winners were cooks from the LA County Fire Department, sharing their culinary skills to benefit Special Victims Bureau, who brought back their rustic display, complete with flashing lights and sirens.
Of course, one of the final stops was the ebony coffin propped up at the Homicide Bureau booth, declaring “Our day begins when your day ends.” Their chili and margaritas weren’t bad, either.
A brief cloudburst that soaked the grounds – and made some people scramble to put away sensitive electronic equipment, such as that on display at the Bomb Squad’s booth – didn’t seem to dampen spirits.
Sgt. Geri McCorkle, who has organized the event for the last few years, was very pleased with the turnout.
“It’s an inexpensive event and the word is getting out that it’s a fun family event,” she said. “I was also impressed with the fact that when it rained, people just stepped under shelters, then when it stopped, they went right back into the street and continued the party.”
More than $16,000 was raised at the event, with the proceeds to be split between three charities – the Special Olympics, Heads Up Therapy on Horseback and Fueled By the Fallen.
Here’s how the rest of the awards played out…
Grand Masters – East LA
Judges’ Choice Best – Homicide (this was the first time win for the bureau)
- Judges’ Choice 2nd place – PDC East
- Judges’ Choice 3rd place – County Services Bureau
People’s Choice Best – County Parks (USC booth)
- People’s Choice 2nd place – South Facility
- People’s Choice 3rd place – County Services
Hottest chili – East LA
- 2nd Hottest – Century Station
- 3rd Hottest – Homicide
- Most Spirited 1st – Dance Studio ’84
- Most Spirited 2nd – Facilities Services Bureau
- Most Spirited 3rd – Special Victims Bureau/LA County Fire
- Most Creative 1st – Dance Studio ’84
- Most Creative 2nd – Military Activation Center/Fueled By the Fallen
- Most Creative 3rd – LA County Fire Camp 12
- Best Design 1st – Military Activation Center/Fueled By the Fallen
- Best Design 2nd – Special Victims Bureau/LA County Fire
- Best Design 3rd – Dance Studio ’84
Even the “prisoners” got to write on the cell wall. Good thing this reporter had a few quarters in her pocket, or this troublemaker (event organizer Sgt. Geri McCorkle) might still be behind bars.