2021 Chicken and Crab Feast Brings Community Back Together

The challenges of Covid prompted some changes to this year’s Chicken and Crab Feast. But that didn’t stop hundreds of Cabin John residents and friends from coming out Sept. 18 to enjoy each other’s company, the delicious food, and the beautiful music of the Starlight Orchestra. 

It was the 10th year the crowd was serenaded by these talented musicians, who generously play only for their supper. Thank you CJ resident and band member Scott Lewis for hooking us up those many years ago! 

Safety tweaks to the 51-year-old tradition included moving ticket sales and the serving line outside. The table seating, also outside, was widely spaced and, in some cases, shaded by tents, thanks to community center director Barry Jones, who borrowed canopies from other rec centers. The center also provided all the tables and chairs and staff to help ensure the event ran smoothly and safely. The center is a much-valued partner in so many CJ traditions! 

All together some 525 meals were served and at least $5,000 raised through ticket sales and donations. While the final tally is still being calculated, the amount is on par with earlier feasts and will be used to support The Village News, MacArthur Blvd. Beautification, and the many CJCA-sponsored activities that we are looking to start holding again after a 17-month pandemic-induced hiatus. 

The Chicken and Crab Feast could not happen without the roughly 100 volunteers who step up to do everything from going door-to-door to sell tickets and preparing vegetables before the event to setting up tables, cooking all the incredible food, dishing up the dinners, serving the drinks, and cleaning up at the end of a very long day. 

For a couple of extremely dedicated volunteers the preparation for this beloved tradition starts more than a month before the big event. Since 2016, Allison and Patrick de Gravelles have coordinated this event, purchasing everything from paper goods and wooden mallets to cinnamon for the carrots and lemons for the lemonade. They deal with the permits and ensure that all of the cooking and food handling will pass muster with the county health inspector. This year they contended with the loss of some suppliers as well as the need to rethink how we handled aspects of the event. The tasks before and during the event are too numerous to count, yet Allison and Patrick handle every detail efficiently and without even breaking a sweat! 

A new duo of incredibly capable and unflappable volunteers appeared on the scene this year to handle ticket sales before and during the event. Despite being rookies, Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson successfully coordinated the ticket selling efforts of more than 30 volunteers. 

All together some 577 tickets were sold, with 52 percent of purchasers opting for crab dinners and 48 percent for chicken. Another shout out goes to Robin Sidel, the CJ website editor, who made it possible for folks to buy tickets via the website, which accounted for 14 percent of ticket sales. 

It wouldn’t be a CJ Chicken and Crab Feast without Pete Cousté leading the crab cooking and Richard Hopkins manning the grill. Seriously, is there a better chicken rub to be found anywhere?! Heidi Lewis and Karen Melchar always seem to make a party out of prepping vegetables. The kitchen crew, headed by Kathleen Black, made sure there were plenty of tasty sides for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. 

Here are all of your neighbors who stepped up to keep this tradition going. Maybe next year you will consider joining them?! 

ADVANCE TICKET SELLERS – coordinated by Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson 

Clare Amoruso, Lee Arbetman, Jessica Blake Hawke, Diana Carter, Deb Duffy, Amy Elsbree, Burr Gray, Linda Green, Helen Harris, Dallas Harrison, Marcy Harrison, Jim Heller, Elaine Hornauer, Virginia Ibarra, Dee Jennings, Courtney Krutoy, Charlotte Troup Leighton, Marget Maurer, Lorraine Minor, David Nester, Jenny Perry, Mandy and Tim Rehm, Lori Rieckelman, Susan Roberts, Juliet Rodman, Anne Rothman, Tim Shank, Robin Sidel, Jan Iris Smith, Sherri Stahl, Shannon Steward, Judy Welles, Lee Young 

VEGGIE PREP – headed by Heidi Lewis and Karen Melchar 

Sally Alain, Crista Gibbons, Marcy Harrison, Kerry, Sam and Clare Mustico, Yoshimi Nai, Lisa Norris, Wendy Rosensweig, Shannon Steward, Oona Stieglitz, Austin White, Barbara Wilmarth 

CHICKEN CREW – headed by Richard Hopkins 

Lynn Hopkins, Cole Hessman, Melih Karaca, Dennis Pillsbury 

CRAB CREW – headed by Pete Cousté 

Dan Berman, Joanne Carl, Michele Cousté, Anastasia Donnellan, Chris Enyart, Barry Hubscher, Dave Rosen 

KITCHEN CREW – headed by Kathleen Black 

Judith Bell, Reiko Berman, Anastasia Donnellan, Marcy Harrison, Sue Pierce, Shelly McKenzie, Andrew Strasfogel 

SET UP – coordinated by Burr Gray 

Dennis Bensen, Sarah Craven, Mark Gillespie, Greg Gurley, Emily Helmes, Jackie Hoglund, Melih Karaca, Scott Lewis, Anna McGuire, Bruce Meyers, Hanna Moerland, Dan Mustico, Pascal Pittman, Anne and Jeff Rothman, Ilene Rosen

DAY-OF TICKET SALES AND CJCA TABLE – coordinated by Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson 

Diana Carter, Amy Elsbree, Grace Lai, Heidi Lewis, Lori Rieckelman, Susan Roberts, Clara, Finn and Tatum Tomlinson

BEVERAGES – headed by Florence Lehr 

Jackie Hoglund 

LEMONADE – headed by Anne Rothman 

My Lin Bui, Sydney Ishida, Andrea Williams 

SERVERS – coordinated by Susan Shipp 

Leslie Baldwin, Sarah Craven, Gail Davenport, Janet and Walt Dence, Emily Franklin, Lynn Gertzog, Linda Green, Meredith Griggs, Helen Harris, Lynn Hopkins, Dallas and Judy Harrison, Jim Ingraham, Dee Jennings, Anna McGuire, Karen Melchar, Leslie Meyers, Mark Posin, Jordan Rosenthal, Robin Sidel, Benno Schmidt, Jeff Shipp, Shannon Steward, Austin White, Barbara Wilmarth 

CLEAN UP – headed by Allison & Patrick de Gravelles and Burr Gray 

Leslie Baldwin, Kathleen Black, Michele and Pete Cousté, Rick Duffy, Amy Elsbree, Ken Eng, Clive and Helen Harris, Richard Hopkins, Marcy Harrison, Jackie Hoglund, Florence Lehr, Mike Liebman, Karen Melchar, David Pillsbury, Jordan Rosenthal, Benno Schmidt, Jeff and Susan Shipp, Shannon Steward, as well as others there at the end who kindly pitched in! 


Apologies to anyone that we inadvertently left off this list. Please know that your assistance in the success of this event was greatly appreciated.

By Susan Shipp, CJCA President 

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