It’s a hero’s journey-esque story as to how Parma’s St. Francis de Sales fish fry was saved the first time.
Ten years ago, Anne Ferguson Long and a group of St. Francis parishioners found out that the event, run by the athletic club of church’s now-closed day school, was getting to be too much. The parents who had organized it since the ’80s were ready to move on, but Long insisted they continue the tradition.
“A few of us parishioners said, ‘We can’t let it dissolve,’ ” says Long. “So we took it fresh, and we said, ‘If you show us, we’ll learn and we’ll keep it going.’ ”
And keep it going they will, with a can-do attitude that is being called upon during this uncertain year.
The fish fry will be drive-thru, cash only, no preorder. There are two choices, both of which cost $15. A fish dinner includes breaded, baked cod and 3 pierogies from Sophie’s Choice Pierogies in Garfield Heights, mac ‘n’ cheese, homemade cabbage and noodles, french fries, coleslaw, applesauce and a buttered roll. (Yes, all those items in one meal!) A pierogi dinner includes 6 pierogis (choose from sweet cheese, potato, or sauerkraut) in place of the fish and all the other items. Add homemade cookies to either for an extra dollar.
The committee decided just to offer everything on the menu in order to make sure everyone gets their favorite side, no decisions required, Long explains. Just one way to make sure their hundreds of fish fry fans still get a chance to enjoy a little bit of tradition, even though it looks very different this year.
“When the pandemic first started, we canceled Mass,” says Long. “For Palm Sunday, we asked [the priest] if we could do a drive-thru service. We had an overwhelming response of people who just wanted to come through and say hi. It showed all of us that people do want to have that sense of familiarity. We feel like this [drive-thru fish fry] will bring the same thing. It may or may not be a big fundraiser this year, but it’s more to keep the community spirit going. We’ll take all the necessary precautions, have people run your food right out to your car. We hope it will have as good a feeling as it did for Palm Sunday.”
Fridays during Lent except Good Friday, 4:30-7 p.m. 3434 George Ave., Parma, 440-884-2319, stfrancisdesales-church.org