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2014 Sister Cities Barbecue a Tasty Mix of Food, Fundraising, and Politics

2014 Sister Cities Barbecue a Tasty Mix of Food, Fundraising, and Politics

A generous dash of politicians may have been the special seasoning in the sauce for the well-attended Santa Clara Sister Cities Association’s 33rd Annual Chicken Barbecue Oct. 12 at the Elks Lodge on Martin Avenue.

“There’s no secret to the chicken. We just cook it low and slow so it gains all the flavor from the mesquite wood we cook it over,” says volunteer Charlie Atherton who, with his teammates, cooked 130 chicken quarters seasoned with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.

The recipe for Ray and Gerri Gamma’s Portuguese baked beans with linguia is, however, a secret; so buying a ticket to the barbecue is one of few opportunities to savor them. The Gammas have provided the baked pinto beans for the last 10 of the 40 years they have been SCSCA members.


“The chicken is always good, as is the excellent garlic bread made by my friends Elise and Mike DeYoung,” says Pat Flot, winner of two donated gift baskets in the opportunity drawing.

Santa Clara High School junior Ajaipal (A.J.) Chahal was one of the SCSCA youth commissioners helping at the barbecue with tasks such as presenting the gift baskets. Chahal visited Izuma as an exchange student in 2013 and was chosen to be the 2015 youth representative on the Sister Cities International Board of Directors of the United States.

“This is the biggest of the Sister Cities fundraisers,” says SCSCA president Kathy Watanabe.

The 2013 barbeque raised about $2,500 to support Santa Clara’s sister city relationships and student exchange programs with Coimbra, Portugal; Izumo, Japan; and Limerick, Ireland.

“We’ve had a really exciting year because of our new Sister Cities relationship with Limerick,” says Watanabe.

2014 Sister Cities Barbecue a Tasty Mix of Food, Fundraising, and Politics

SCSCA member Erin Ulrich accompanied youth commissioner Katie Knowles to Izumo for 10 days in June. They reported on their visit at the Sept. 30 City Council meeting, as well as at the barbecue.

“It’s pretty cool to have a second family halfway around the world. They were really hospitable and kind…and made me feel welcome,” says Knowles, a Santa Clara High School sophomore. “I think this program is really nice. It really teaches students about different cultures and makes them think about new ways to do things.”

“Through my work at the library, I hope to make the program more visible to the families in Santa Clara,” says Ulrich, Youth Services Program Coordinator for the City library.

Candidates vying for office on Nov. 4 were invited to attend the barbecue.

“It gives an opportunity for candidates to come out and meet and greet the community before the election,” says Watanabe.

Those attending included District 17 Congressional seat candidate Ro Khanna; State Assembly District 25 candidate Kansen Chu; City Council seat 2 candidate Patrick Kolstad and seat 5 candidate Roseann LaCorsier; Santa Clara Unified School District governing board candidates Steve Kelly, Jodi Muirhead, Andrew Ratermann and Noelani Sallings; and Pete Constant, running for Seat 3 on the West Valley Mission Community College District Board.

“This is a wonderful event supporting a wonderful cause,” says Flot. “I wish we could get more kids involved—get them out to see the world.”

November is the application deadline for students interested in the April 2015, 10-day exchange trip to Coimbra. For information, visit


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