With many local police departments and the 911 Call Center upgrading their radio equipment to a digital format, the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society is rather concerned. The humane society's police officers have "ancient" radios that "can't be upgraded," said Paul Gottshall, an officer with the organization, and without proper equipment, they will soon be unable to receive calls for emergency situations involving animals.
"Before, we got other departments' 'hand-me-downs,'" he said. "We can't do that now."
To remedy the situation, the humane society will be holding a Chili Fest and Wings fundraising event from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Bavarian Aid Society, 112 S. 13th St. in Altoona. Tickets to the cookoff competition are $10 in advance and $15 at the door, with all proceeds going to the purchase of digital radios.
"We need to get new radios," said Jill Brubaker Reigh, director of outreach and marketing for the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society. "With everybody else in the county going digital, we need to be ready to go digital. There will be a lot of animals that suffer and a lot of people that suffer."
The humane society has held the Chili Fest "three or four times before, but we haven't had it for three years," Reigh said, adding that it only runs this fundraiser when there is a particular need, such as the radios.
This will be the first time the organization has featured a chicken wing competition alongside the chili cookoff.
If you go
What: Central Pennsylvania Humane Society's Chili Fest and Wings
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bavarian Aid Society, 112 S. 13th St., Altoona
Tickets: $10 in advance or $15 at the door ($10 for veterans, EMS, fire and police). For tickets, contact CPHS police officers Joe Varner or Paul Gottshall at 942-3780 or at email@example.com.
"They thought it would be an extra bit of fun," Reigh said. "It's a nice combination; it makes it a little jazzier."
The night will feature chili from Marzoni's of Duncansville; Jack's Grubb Shack, Pizza Factory, the Altoona Fire Department and Greenwood Steak House of Altoona and Jim Ott, the Duncansville police chief. Participating in the wing competition will be Mama Randazzo's, Jack's Grubb Shack, AJ's Front Street Deli, the Belmar Hotel, and Mike Daversa, the Altoona Police Department K-9 officer, and Irvin's on Main of Bellwood.
Two celebrity contestants, WTAJ-TV's Joe Murgo and Carolyn Donaldson, also will toss their hats into the chili ring.
The contestants will cook at home or at the restaurant, Reigh said, and bring their entries to the Bavarian Aid Society. The patrons can choose what they want to taste.
Celebrity judges for the event will include Jay Randyll of Rocky 104.9 FM, Pete Moss from Froggy 98.1 FM, Dawn Pellas of "Central PA Live," Doug Dibert and Hooters Girls Carly Nebelski and Sharon Richardson. Steve "Frogman" Kelsey from Froggy 98.1 FM and Tommy Edwards from Rocky 104.9 FM will serve as the evening's masters of ceremony.
Trophies will be awarded for the top three respective chili and wing recipes, with one People's Choice award winner.
Entertainment will be provided by DJ "The Music Jar," and there will be football shown on a big-screen television.
"It's going to be an all-around good time, benefiting our department," Gottshall said.
"[Guests] can expect to have a really good time with lots of other people who have a passion and compassion for animals and like chili and wings," she said. "They can make a difference here at the humane society. It will be a great benefit to the community and to the animals."
Mirror staff writer Cory Dobrowolsky can be reached at 946-7428.