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Ogdensburg sports booster club satiates ‘green’ gravy cravings for a cause

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Ogdensburg Free Academy alumni can get their green gravy fix Sept. 28 at OFA to raise money for the Block O Booster Club.

Organizers hope the gravy, a longtime staple of the OFA lunch menu, will be liquid gold for the club. The club raises money to support the Ogdensburg City School District’s sports teams.

The chicken-based gravy’s color is somewhere between fluorescent green and fluorescent yellow. Booster club board member Thomas M. Pinkerton said the description won’t encourage the uninitiated to try it, but it remains a major craving among graduates long after their school days are done.

“Speaking from a purely scientific standpoint, it’s probably the salt content,” Mr. Pinkerton said. “It’s something that has remained a staple of OFA cafeteria food ever since I was in school. Everybody remembers it.”

Mr. Pinkerton is a 1988 OFA graduate and teaches fifth and sixth grade at John F. Kennedy Elementary School. Green gravy is still one of his guilty pleasures.

“I get it every once in a while at school,” he said. “Really it’s kind of nostalgic. It brings back good memories.”

Club members are banking on that sense of nostalgia to bring people to the dinner, which will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the OFA cafeteria. Tickets are $8 per person, $5 for children under 12, and are available at the Ogdensburg Bowl, Howland Pump, from any club board member, or at the door the night of the dinner. The gravy will be slathered on turkey and mashed potatoes.

School lunch manager Brian R. Mitchell said Thursday that he expects to feed at least 350 people.

He plans to prepare enough for 500 to 600 people, though, so he doesn’t run out.

Takeouts and delivery are offered.

A green gravy lunch normally costs $2.15 for students and $4 for teachers, but he expects people will have no problem forking over $8 a plate for it.

“Whenever I go out, people tell me they would pay $50 for a to-go container of it,” he said. “A lot of people say they try to make it at home, but it’s not the same. I’ve had people all around say they will pay whatever it takes to get it.”

The bulk chicken base he buys from a restaurant supplier is the secret behind the savory, salty sauce, he said.

“It’s one of the favorite meals,” said OFA Athletic Director Anthony E. Bjork. “Everybody wants to come back for the green gravy.”

Mr. Bjork said he thinks Mr. Mitchell will easily surpass the 350-dinner mark. At school that night will be Pop Warner football, home soccer, football and volleyball games, and OFA cheerleader night. A lot of OFA sports fans will probably have cravings that need to be satisfied, he said.

Booster club President Stephen C. LaRose graduated from OFA in 1978 and doesn’t remember the green gravy. But he knows people are crazy about it, and he hopes it will translate to big bucks for sports teams.

“We’ve had a good response so far,” he said. “People are excited about it.”

Club board member Arlene L. Kiah doesn’t know the joys of the gravy, either, she said, because she is a Heuvelton graduate and green gravy is unique to Ogdensburg. Even so, Mr. LaRose said she came up with the idea.

“Everybody seems to love it,” she said.

Even without the promise of liquid gold, she said she thinks the dinner would get a good turnout because the community is so supportive of her group.

“We couldn’t do it without the community’s support,” she said. “We will be established for a year in October, and we’ve done really well. The Mitchell family and Kiwanis have been wonderful to us to help put this on.”

For delivery the night of the dinner, call 276-5416 or 323-2656.

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