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Serving fish ... and the church

Local parish serves up more than 1,147 dinners for the opening night of its Lenten Fish Fry

Posted: February 28, 2009 1:38 a.m.
Updated: February 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Volunteer Kathy Brown, right, helps serve some of the 1147 cod fish dinners at St. Clare's annual fish fry fundraiser in Canyon Country on Friday night.

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Seven-year-old Anders Edson stuffed a plump piece of fried Alaskan cod in his mouth and took a big chomp.

“This is really good Dad,” said Edson, of Valencia, as hundreds of others around him enjoyed their own piled-high plate of fish and chips, coleslaw, rice pilaf and a bread roll.

St. Clare volunteers in Canyon Country battered up their 31st annual Lenten Fish Fry Friday night with a crowd of 400 local and nonlocal residents of all faiths, backgrounds and ages just in the first hour.

Thousands more will enjoy their $7.50 to $8.50 meal in the St. Clare of Assisi Roman Catholic Church cafeteria from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. each of the next five Friday nights between Ash Wednesday and the week before Good Friday.

“It takes over 200 people to put this on starting Tuesday afternoon,” said Paul Travers, St. Clare’s events director.

After decades of hosting the event, many volunteers had an efficient routine down.

It took volunteers only seconds to clear empty plates, servers swiftly loaded coleslaw and rice pilaf and cooks quickly refilled empty frying trays with fish and French fries.

Roland Elwood, 93, has participated in St. Clare’s fish fry for five years.

“I like volunteering. I don’t think we ever get too old to do that,” Elwood said as he clung to a bag of rolls.

As for the fish eaters, many said they return year after year for the quality food and visits with old friends or meeting new friends.

“It tastes good and I’m not even a fish person,” said Janelle Futch, 15, whose family makes the trek every year from Lake Hughes.

Futch’s mother, Robin Futch, said the event is quite the spiritual gathering.

“It brings all the parishes together,” she said. “We see families we sometimes haven’t seen since last year.”

The popularity and quality of the event draws many non-parish members too.

“The quality of the food for the price is very good,” said Emily Magana, 59, of San Fernando. “We will be here next week.”

After the parish’s charity raffle in October, the Lenten Fish Fry is St. Clare’s biggest annual fundraiser, with net proceeds going to the St. Francis Counseling Center, the SCV Food Pantry, the SCV Domestic Violence Center, and as direct aid to parish families in need, according to Travers.

Signal Online Editor Stephen Peeples contributed to this report.

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