NORMAN — As a slight drizzle started coming down Thursday night in Norman, it seemed like the perfect weather for a hot bowl of chili made by Norman’s finest.
Norman police and fire departments, University of Oklahoma Police and students from the Moore Norman Technology Center came together Thursday night to help serve residents during the 38th annual Chili Supper.
“We come every year. It’s good fun, fellowship, and we see a lot of people,” resident Julia Guy said.
“And it’s good chili,” resident Betty Roberts said.
Resident George Babcock and his wife have been attending the supper for at least 20 years, he said.
“It’s for a good cause,” Babcock said. “And it’s nice for the community to get together.”
Roberts’ husband, Neil, is a retired Norman firefighter and has been involved with the chili supper since it started.
Roberts said the whole thing started after someone contacted them and asked if they could help raise money for the Cleveland County Christmas Store.
The first three years of the event, police and fire departments purchased all of the ingredients. By the fifth year, everything was donated, Roberts said.
“It’s a big job trying to get everybody to donate everything,” he said.
The chili feast serves about 1,500 people every year now, which means cooking 1,500 pounds of meat and 160 pounds of beans, plus other “secret” ingredients, Roberts said with a smirk.
Norman Police Capt. David Teuscher said all of those ingredients amount to about 500 gallons of chili, and it’s made fresh the morning of the event.
“I enjoy seeing the community, being involved, interacting with the community,” Teuscher said.
Teuscher said he also enjoys being able to donate his time and help donate to the Cleveland County Christmas Store, where all of the proceeds go. About $6,500 was raised during last year’s supper.
Several students from the Moore Norman Technology Center also get to meet firefighters and police officers when they help serve food and drinks at the chili supper.
“We’ve done this with fire and police since Day 1,” said Zena Amer, MNTC career exploration instructor. “The kids learn a lot, they get to meet firefighters and police officers. It’s a marriage that’s actually working for us.”
Amer said volunteering their time is one way to help the community that supports them. It is about doing the right thing and giving back to the community, she said.
Ten to 12 students volunteered at the supper Thursday night.
In the 38 years the police and fire departments have hosted the chili supper, the worst thing to happen was running out of chili; it’s happened twice, Roberts said. He also remembers when there was so much rain one year that the roads were flooding and they didn’t think many people would show.
“We sold every drop of chili we had that night,” Roberts said.
“Even the floods and rain didn’t keep them away,” Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said.
As a line formed behind the cafeteria doors at Norman High School just before the supper started, it wouldn’t be surprising if Thursday was another night every last drop of chili was sold.
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