It was billed as the "First Annual Col. Leon N. Tomlin Hot Dog Festival."
In reality, it was a throwback to bygone days when police officers got together for change-of-shift parties, cookouts or maybe a few beers.
There was no beer yesterday but plenty of kosher hot dogs -- more than 300 were roasted on a charcoal grill and sold for $1 apiece. The "festival" was held on the loading dock of the city police headquarters building at 601 E. Fayette St.
Officers in the Property Division -- Pete Katich, Frank Stallings, Edward Marston, Lon Palmere and Norbert Fiakowski and Lt. Edward Boston -- set up the hot-dog festival, in part, to raise a little money to buy a present for Colonel Tomlin, their former boss who was recently transferred to head of the Special Operations Division.
"After I ate two hot dogs, I asked them what gift I was supposed to get and they told me two hot dogs," Colonel Tomlin said with a smile. "I said, 'Well, in that case, can I get three.' They said don't press your luck."
The cookouts began about a year ago when officers in the Property Division started cooking hot dogs once a week on a charcoal grill for themselves.
As the smells of hot dogs and charcoal wafted into the building, other workers asked if they could purchase some of the hot dogs. The officers started selling them for $1 apiece and unspent money went into the building's coffee fund.
But, a detective who was unable to obtain a permit to operate a hot sandwich concession in the building complained about the hot dog sales and the cookouts came to a halt.
Now there's hope that the weekly cookout will gain popularity once again.
"Maybe we can have a welcome aboard party next week for our new boss," Officer Katich said.
Rebecca Herrington, a secretary, purchased four hot dogs and took them back to police Commissioner Edward V. Woods' office. The commissioner did not attend the hot dog festival.
"They are delicious," Ms. Herrington said about the hot dogs, adding: "I think the whole thing is fantastic. It's raining today, so [the festival] couldn't have come at a more convenient time."
"This is really a great idea," said Officer Jason Smith of the Telephone Reporting Unit. "I hope they do this more often. This is what you need -- a little snack to help you until you get home."
Maj. John C. Lewandowski, who replaced Colonel Tomlin, sat in a workshop adjacent to the loading dock eating a hot dog among the piles of lumber and woodworking equipment.
"This is almost as good as the one at the Northeast District [his former command]. It's the greatest thing in the world for morale," Major Lewandowski said. "It lets the employees know that management thinks about them. We even cook breakfast at the Northeast District."
The major said supervisors in a number of the police districts are now allowing cookouts.
Charlie Luthardt, of the Arundel Corp., which provided the concrete for the department's stables, heard about the festival and stopped by for a hot dog and to renew acquaintances.
"This is great," Mr. Luthardt said.