David Lauderdale

Club to take stab at world’s largest meatball

Meatball Madness is coming to Hilton Head Island.

What started as a small idea has mushroomed into this:

The Italian-American Club of Hilton Head Island plans to make the world’s largest meatball — about 1,500 pounds worth — on Nov. 18 at Shelter Cove Community Park.

In addition, the Meatball Madness Fest is to include a 5K race (the Meatball Run), a competition by local restaurants and organizations for best meatball in three categories (the Brawl of the Balls), and a meatball-eating contest.

One goal is to put Hilton Head in the record book with Guinness World Records — throwing down the 6-year-old record of a mere 1,100 pounds held by the Columbus (Ohio) Italian Club.

But leaders of the nonprofit club say the main goal is to raise money for local charities, particularly those dealing with hunger, and to bring attention to the hunger issue in a wealthy area.

“Fighting Hunger on a Large Scale” is the event motto on the club’s Crowd Rise website, where donations can be made toward a $40,000 goal.

“There is no doubt that the Hilton Head Island area is a special community, surrounded by immense beauty and wonderful people,” the club says. “But beyond the gates, the unspoiled beaches, and the pristine golf courses, Beaufort County is also home to large pockets of need and impoverishment.

“Many of our close neighbors are struggling with diverse issues and need assistance in many aspects of their lives. Among those, the most basic necessity — nourishment.”

It has taken a full village to get this far, say Rob Lembo, who had the idea, and club president John DeCecco.

For example, Chef Joe Sullivan of Mulberry Street Trattoria in Bluffton has created a recipe for the all-beef meatball.

And club member Lili Coleman, executive director of Second Helpings, is in charge of “Operation: Mete out the Meatball.” After the meatball is cooked and weighed, volunteers will divide it into 2-pound portions for packing and distribution to local food banks and nonprofit organizations.

Besides helping charities, DeCecco said, “It’s a great opportunity to bring our island national and international attention for something that is a fun thing.”

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale