Everybody loves a cookout.
Well, almost everybody.
A two decades-old tradition came crashing down like a loose grill lid recently when the Coeur d'Alene Eagles vacated the walkway in front of their Sherman Avenue club and moved their Thirsty Thursday cookout inside. For 20 years, the Eagles have barbecued hot dogs and burgers for passersby, including non-Eagles, charging customers for food and drink and a relaxing atmosphere. The more income the Eagles make, the more charitable good they do - and they do a heck of a lot. Because of Thirsty Thursdays, The Press has learned, that's typically the biggest revenue day of the week for the organization.
Unfortunately, one or more businesses in the vicinity complained to the Downtown Association about smoke generated by the barbecue for those two or three hours each Thursday. Efforts by the Eagles to be a good neighbor - including trying to barbecue in the blistering hot, virtually inaccessible alley out back - have choked off this important revenue source.
It's not our intent to slam anybody, especially businesses that likely depend on foot traffic for survival. Heavy smoke can render inventory unsellable and make shopping a pain in the eyes for prospective customers. But because that barbecue is much more than a good advertisement for the Eagles and a fun tradition for the community and visitors alike, we hate to see it torpedoed by what could come down to a single complainant.
That's why we encourage the Eagles to do their best to ensure the smoke goes up and out over Sherman but resume the traditional out-front barbecue pronto. Sometimes the wind direction alone will do the trick. Other times, maybe a good portable fan would send most smoke dissipating into harmless space.
The Eagles have always been a good neighbor, as most businesses along the downtown corridor will readily attest. The good they do in the community, however, goes way beyond what most people realize.
Just recently The Press published a check-passing photo, one of many Eagles photos we share with readers every year, between the Eagles and a representative from Kootenai Health's Cancer Center. The amount: $14,812.50. That's a lot of burgers and a ton of goodwill.
We think that if Eagles leadership does its best to curtail as much smoke as possible, nothing more can be asked or expected. Bring back that outdoor barbecue, which generates far more tears of joy than grief.