By SEAN STONE
ELSMERE — For many, late winter can bring sudden snow storms, skiing, and slicked roads, but for the town of Bethlehem it also brings the beloved Elsmere Fire Company Fish Fry Dinner. It’s an opportunity to chow down on a delicious meal and raise money for a great cause, but it’s become much more for patrons and volunteers alike.
With cooking instructions from Ted’s Fish Fry and the experience of its staff the event has gone from being a 200-fish operation in 2004, to a well-oiled machine of volunteers cooking for and serving over 600 community members a week. “I don’t want to brag,” says Elsmere Lay Chaplain Joe Catalano, “But we have this down to almost perfection.”
The event is now a calendar staple, where Catalano says families return to their regular tables every year. The volunteers in the kitchen are no exception, with some people having done the event since it began, like former fire company chief Bill Webb who has breaded and fried the fish since the event’s opening year.
For Catalano the fish fry is more than just a fundraising event, it’s a time to see the community gather together for a good cause and enjoy themselves. “The community has been amazing, it almost brings a tear to your eye,” he says. Patrons aren’t the only ones enjoying themselves, “It brings us together in the kitchen, you have to see it first-hand.”
The funds raised from this event are used towards the fire safety programs and events the fire company does throughout the year.
Anyone looking to enjoy fried fish, chicken tenders, or a hot bowl of clam chowder should drop by the Elsmere Firehouse on Feb. 16, March 2, March 16, and March 30 for a meal only community and 14 years’ experience can deliver.