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Lenten season fish fries serve a mix of food, fellowship

A production line of volunteers prepare fish fillets in the kitchen of the St. Mary Catholic School parish hall Friday afternoon. The school’s annual Lenten fish fry began Friday and will continue each Friday through April 3. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

MARIETTA — Vehicles clogged the intersection at Third and Marion streets Friday afternoon, jockeying for parking places in the lot behind St. Mary Catholic School. A line of hungry people shuffled slowly into the back door of the building to join hundreds waiting to get into the first fish fry of Lent.

It was 4:20 p.m. The event was scheduled to start at 5 p.m., but the hall already was filling up and volunteer servers were handing out trays of pollock, cod, potatoes and green beans.

“French fries or baked potato?” the servers asked. No one minded standing in line.

“It’s good stuff, worth the wait,” one man said to another.

A volunteer signed in and entered the kitchen.

A server dishes up fish dinners for waiting customers at the St. Mary Catholic School parish hall Friday afternoon. The school’s annual Lenten fish fry began Friday and will continue each Friday through April 3. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

“You can just jump right in line here,” Elizabeth Tokadi said as she breezed by, pointing at a line of men running fish fillets through batter and crumbs.

The fish fry has been offered by St. Mary’s for 18 years, said school marketing director Tammi Bradley.

“It’s a staple in our Lenten tradition,” she said. The dinners will continue each Friday through April 3, she said.

The kitchen operation is under the supervision of Cathy Rauch, the school’s technology teacher who has been in charge of preparing the feast during the entire 18 years. The organizers expected to serve about 600 people Friday night.

“It’s about 160 pounds of cod, 800 pounds of pollock, 225 pounds of potatoes, 25 gallons of green beans, 15 gallons of applesauce, 100 pounds of slaw …” she said.

A production line of volunteers prepare fish fillets in the kitchen of the St. Mary Catholic School parish hall Friday afternoon. The school’s annual Lenten fish fry began Friday and will continue each Friday through April 3. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

The meal also includes dessert and beverages. Off to one side of the big room, pizza was being served for those with an aversion to fish.

Jan Long, standing in line, said she had come down from Lowell, where she participates in the fish fry offered by Our Lady of Mercy Church on alternate Fridays during Lent.

“I like to help support them,” she said.

Noelle Long, waiting with her children, first-grader Liam and third-grader Myra, both St. Mary’s students, said she usually comes to event.

“The food is really good,” she said.

Servers dish up fish dinners for waiting customers at the St. Mary Catholic School parish hall Friday afternoon. The school’s annual Lenten fish fry began Friday and will continue each Friday through April 3. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

Mindy Rutherford brought her daughter Sarah, who’s in first grade.

“I came here when I moved to Marietta, but I haven’t been here for about three years,” she said. “I just remember how good the fish was, and Sarah enjoys seeing her teachers and classmates outside of school.”

Raush said running the kitchen for the event is rewarding.

“I enjoy the people, it seems to bring all the community together,” she said.

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.

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Late Winter Fish Fry Dinners

* St. Mary School Lenten fish fry, March 6, 13, 20, 27 and April 3, 5-7 p.m. in the parish hall, 320 Marion St., baked fish dinner, or Original Pizza Place cheese pizza, drive-thru take out available

* Our Lady of Mercy church, 5001 Lowell Hill Road, Lowell, March 6, 20 and April 3, 4:30 p.m., all you can eat, adults $8.50, children under 12, $4.

* VFW Post No. 5108, 319 Pike St., March 13 and 27, 5-7 p.m., all you can eat for $8, Alaskan pollock

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