RENTON, Wash. - The United Way of King County threw a BBQ and celebration in Renton to bring the community together following the pandemic. Hundreds turned out to enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere at Saturday's event.
Former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and United Way of King County Campaign Chair Doug Baldwin Jr. provided the inspiration for the first annual United Way BBQ.
"We’ve been isolated and separated for a long time in the pandemic, and we’ve seen a lot of things happen in our community that’s also been divisive in some ways," said Baldwin. "I think BBQ, at least when I was growing up, BBQ was always an opportunity to bring our family and friends and the community together."
"I hope that our event, this event with Doug Baldwin and United Way of King County’s first annual community BBQ, is a series of events as we try to come out of COVID where people begin to reconnect," said Gordon McHenry Jr., President and CEO of United Way of King County.
Baldwin requested Family fun features at the event including inflatable bounce houses and slides for the kids.
"I have two daughters and a third on the way, and they enjoy having fun at events like this, so I wanted to make sure I was thinking through their lens" said Baldwin.
A Lego station also attracted kids and adults alike to build on their imaginations.
Nikolai Rankin, and his Dad Michael Rankin were having fun trying to recreate iconic buildings in Seattle with the provided Legos.
"They are building the Seattle city skyline, so I wanted to build the Smith Tower," said Michael.
Food was a central feature at the BBQ. Community members lined up for C. Davis Texas BBQ.
"That’s my number one seller right there, brisket over waffle fries," said C. Davis as he served up the popular dish to hungry attendees.
"I’m the official vendor for the Seahawks, and I’m killing the game right now. I’m happy it turned out to be a nice day as well too," he said.
For some families, it was the first big community outing that they attended since the pandemic began.
"This s a fantastic event, overwhelming. We were just expecting BBQ, and we came into a whole carnival, so it’s amazing," said Reuben Atienza.
Reuben says his son Nico was born during the pandemic and has never seen anything like the BBQ before.
"This is Disneyland to him," he said.
Organizers are already thinking about where they might host the next BBQ in 2023.
"I’m so glad that United Way did this for the community," said Lita Atienza, Nico’s mom.