BARNEGAT, NJ - Big Barlow’s BBQ in Barnegat hosted a “Back The Blue” fundraiser on Saturday to show support for the Ocean County PBA.  The event attracted over 700 people throughout the day.

Restaurant owner Chris Barlow committed to donating twenty percent of all food sales to the countywide law enforcement organization.  Overall contributions are more than $3,000.

Thin Blue Line flags dotted the perimeter at the restaurant, located at the corner of Route 9 and Main Street. Miniature and full-sized American flags and Thin Blue Line flags were draped on the building.

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Several tables and chairs, along with a stage and high-top tables were also set up in the parking lot.  An assortment of vendors in pop up tents sold cigars, coffee, jewelry, and “Back the Blue” swag.

Barlow opened the event by leading attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Antoine Cerf kept with the fundraiser’s patriotic theme and performed the Star-Spangled Banner on the guitar.

“I came out to support the police and think that it is important for our country to hold events like this,” said Olivia Anderson. Both of Anderson’s parents are police officers who serve a local Ocean County municipality.

The fundraiser included a series of stage appearances from  October Rose Music, CGROOVE, Chrid Fritz Music, Chuck D and Plan A. 

A gift auction in the evening featured gift baskets and items donated by other local businesses.

One of the vendors on site was a business owned and operated by a veteran to help other veterans. New Jersey-based Project Refit, focuses on combatting isolation among veterans.

“Project Refit is a mission to combat isolation among the military, veteran, and first responder communities, including families, through a hybrid attack,” shared the company spokesperson and creator James Corbett.

Construction of a mobile unit that will deploy to a “veterans cardboard box, apartment or house” is one of the ways Project Refit intends to help veterans. It makes use of a propriety app and Zoom.  More information about providing veterans instant connections can be found at www.projectfit.us.

Rolling Thunder National chapter motorcycle club and some other law enforcement motorcycle clubs showed up in force to show support.

Several local police departments, including New Jersey State Police, Barnegat, and Ocean Township all stopped by the fundraiser.

Barlow personally hand-delivered many of the food orders to people patiently waiting for his special barbeque.

The event was met with harsh criticism when Barlow initially announced it on his Facebook page. Some questioned the local restaurateur’s support of law enforcement- in a time when some are calling for the police to be defunded.

 “I don’t care,” Barlow said. “This is my business. This is my life. I choose what I want to support.”

According to Barlow, he organized the fundraiser to show his respect for what he termed the “great people that put their lives on the line to protect all of us.”