Volunteers arrived early Thursday for a full day of intense grilling, packaging and selling of nearly 12,000 chickens to raise money for charitable causes.
More than 400 Kiwanis Club of Tampa members, community supporters and high school and college students joined together for the annual Chicken Barbecue Fundraiser. They hoped to raise $45,000.
The effort got under way at 2:30 a.m. under a tent outside Raymond James Stadium. Using 10 industrial grills, the volunteers turned out about 1,600 chickens an hour, dipped in sauce and packaged for pickup.
The fundraiser began in 1968, when Kiwanis Club members decided to have a barbecue cookout to raise money for community causes. The club members brought their own grills.
Carl Hawkins, chairman of this year's dinner, said 8,000 chicken dinners were boxed by 7 a.m. Thursday.
"To pull off something like this takes a tremendous effort," he said.
Dinners were delivered to Metropolitan Ministries and companies that had pre-ordered 25 or more. Others were sold for $8 each, with a drive-through station on Dale Mabry Highway.