Monday, May 20, 2013

Community Hot Dog Day Provides Party, Advocates for Safe Neighborhoods

By Christina Georgiou

Overcast skies couldn't dampen the spirits of the couple hundred people gathered in West Ward Easton's Centennial Park Sunday for the fourth annual "Free Community Hot Dog Day", celebrated for the last four years to commemorate the life of Khaliq Al Shabazz and others whose lives have been taken by gun violence.

It's been nearly eight years since Al Shabazz was shot and killed in his Florida residence. The Easton man had just moved there a few months before. Neighbors reportedly heard the gunshots, yet no one called police. He was found by his wife when she returned home from work.

Khaliq Al Shabazz's sister, Patricia
Al Ford, talks about the devastating
effects of gun violence.
Click on any photo for
a full size view.
The homicide case has yet to be solved.

 "He laid there and bled to death because no one called," said Patricia Al Ford, Al Shabazz's sister and one of the organizers of the event."

She urged attendees to call police, anonymously if necessary, in the case of gun fire or violence.

West Ward resident Yvonne Gilbert watches over a table
of goodies for the kids.
Local district magistrate candidate Lance Wheeler also urged the crowd to do the right thing if they see or hear of a crime.

"Remember, don't be afraid to get involved and tell. Those that don't tell are involved in the crime," he said. "Guns don't kill people, people do. And remember, if you know someone that doesn't have a license, they shouldn't have a gun."

Al Shabazz was an activist, the founder of "Guns Down", which advocated non-violence. "Snoopy", as Al Shabazz was called by to those close to him, also was known for his neighborhood cookouts. Setting up a grill, he'd feed any and all who happened by.

"We started this, me and my girlfriend, four years ago," said Veronica Clark Bullett. "We thought, what can we do? And she was like, 'he gave out hot dogs all the time.'"

With kids laughing and playing in the streets, both adults and children dancing, raffle prizes, toys and other goodies, and of course, free hot dogs for all, event attendees clearly had a wonderful time.

West Ward resident Dale Gibbons
enjoys a hot dog.

But the importance of eliminating violence and keeping the neighborhood safe wasn't far from the minds of many.

West Ward resident Dale Gibbons summed it up with, "Summer, winter, spring, and fall, we want our streets safe for all."

Magisterial judge candidate Lance Wheeler picks raffle

Dancing in the streets...

Free Community Hot Dog Day organizers Veronica Clark Bullett
and Patricia Al Ford.

Palmer Township DJ John Harvey, along with his son Kylar, 15, donated their services to the event. "My dad does this every year because he grew up here," Kylar said.

West Ward residents Scott Wolf and Michael Fillebrown, with cockatiel "Jackie". Wolf said he found the bird, who is very friendly and affectionate, about three weeks ago. "We don't know if it's a boy or a girl," Wolf said. "He gets along with my dog too. (The dog) lets him ride on his back." The bird is named after Jackie Chan

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