Frank Pascuzzi moved his glasses to the tip of his nose so he could read the digital display on his meat thermometer. Perfect -- 168 degrees.
The 52-year-old Copaigue man’s red suspenders and snow-white hair rested on his shoulders as he cut the fat from a rack of ribs. He worked fiercely to get the next rack basted so that he could throw it on the grill. Then he handed cookies to the line of children that kept forming at the helm.
“For years Mrs. Claus and I have been barbecuing up at the North Pole,” he said. “I figured I would come down and share a little bit of North Pole barbecue.”
The year-round professional Santa Claus volunteered with the Grillscouts, one of 12 grill teams competing in the Hicksville Fire Department Volunteer Hose Co. No. 4’s inaugural BBQ Cook-Off and Car Show. Pascuzzi showcased his new North Pole-styled ribs, which he described as sweet while the meat stays on the bone.
Huntington’s Michael Diaz, of Mike’s Backyard grill team, was also on hand cooking up his traditional ribs.
“We’re all about community and giving back,” Diaz said. “When we heard about this, we thought, ‘What better way [to] help out the community.’”
The event was organized by Greg Doerflein and Brian Quinn of the Hicksville Fire Department’s Volunteer Hose Co. No. 4. Proceeds from the cook-off will go to the fire company; donations from the car show will go to the Nassau County Fire Fighters Burn Center.
“We wanted to do something to get the community together and just have a great Saturday afternoon,” Doerflein said.
He and Quinn worked for about 10 months on the event. The crowd of about 150 people offered compliments for all of the grill teams. The contest was divided into two categories -- crowd favorite and the professional judge’s favorite. Shirley's EZCue took top honors as the crowd's favorite, while the judges' favorite was Wantaugh's Smokin' Aces.
“What’s more American than a good old-fashioned classic car show?” Doerflein asked.
Photo: Frank Pascuzzi, a year-round professional Santa Claus from Copaigue, grills meat at the Hicksville Fire Department Volunteer Hose Co. No. 4’s inaugural cook-off and car show. (Sept. 17, 2011)