HOWELL – The German word Burgermeister means master of the citizens and George Veitengruber certainly commanded attention by getting into the spirit of the 14th Annual Police Benevolent Association Local 228 Oktoberfest.
Veitengruber’s attire resembled that of a Burgermeister, a title usually translated into English as “Mayor,” but it was his wife Susan who served as the township’s first female Republican mayor.
“I just enjoy getting into the spirit of things,” George Veitengruber said. “We’ve lived here since 1976. My wife Susan was the mayor in 1990. It is a wonderful community.”
“I was on the Board of Education and on the environmental commission in the township before becoming mayor and I’m proud to be a PBA silver card holder which is the highest honor a civilian can receive from the PBA,” Susan Veitengruber said. “We have the best PBA in the state.” The Veitengrubers’ grandsons Grayson and Jake were also enjoying the many children’s activities available.
The Veitengrubers were among the 400 attendees who enjoyed German music, food and other activities.
“This is one of the major fundraisers for the PBA and one of the most looked forward to events every year in the area,” Howell Police School Resource Officer Jay Higgins said. This marked his first year as chairman of the Oktoberfest.
Higgins added that the “Howell PBA has worked very hard over the years to become part of the community we serve and help out whenever and wherever we can. The money raised at this event helps the Howell PBA support youth and community groups in Howell.”
“This event requires the help of nearly all 90-plus members of the Howell Police. It brings together PBA members, SOA (Superior Officers Association) members, the chief of police, our families, and several members of the community that support us make it a great day,” Higgins said.
The event featured authentic German food cooked by Woody’s Roadside Tavern in Farmingdale, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, and French fries. Also served up were generous helpings of popcorn, pretzels, and desserts.
“For the kids we have bounce houses and pumpkin painting. This year we also have Bubbles the clown who will entertain the kids with her balloon creations and face painting,” Higgins said. “For the adults we have an extensive gift auction, a large assortment of seasonal and year-round beers and wine and the Phil Engel Band,” Higgins said.
“We tried to use Howell based companies or at least businesses near Howell for this event. Woody’s Tavern is well known and all the German food was brought here from there,” Higgins said. “Phil Engel is a big supporter of us here in Howell and SJ Printing in Howell provided our dessert and wine tasting.”
Higgins said that full time officers as well as retired officers were helping work the event. “Many of our retired officers came out to help us. You never really retire from the department. They really love this event.”
Jayson Symons retired from the department in 2016 but recently returned as a police dispatcher. “Many of the families of the PBA are here today and we get a lot of support from throughout the community.”
This marked the first time the event was held at the Girl Scouts Activity Center on Yellowbrook Road. Many attendees complimented the location including Mayor Theresa Berger. “This is a great venue. They did an amazing job. This is a good event,” Berger said.
“We have great weather here today but if it were to have rained, we could just pull everything inside,” Higgins said.
Howell Police Captain Mark Pilecki was pleased to see the large turnout. He had recently helped coordinate Howell Day and added that “this event has members of the police in attire other than their uniforms. It allows us to get to know the public better and for everyone to have a good time at a nice family event.”
Higgins said the PBA holds a golf outing and members also make deliveries of food for people in the township who can’t get around as well. “We also have a bowling event for special needs children in December. We do a lot for the community.”