Volunteers prepare the meals before the drive-thru fish fry at St. Mary Parish in Waukesha. (Submitted photo)
As the second Catholic Church established in Waukesha, St. Mary Parish has held a sacred place in the community since 1949. Soon after its beginning, it enrolled more than 200 students in the parish school, and embarked on a legacy that continues to grow to this day. With such a rich history and committed parishioners, it was no surprise that all hands were on deck for this year’s unprecedented drive-thru fish fry.
Volunteers from the parish, school and local Catholic Boy Scout troop donned masks and exuberant attitudes, and waited to find out what they could do to help get the few hundred orders ready. Those orders included fish fry, French fries with a side of coleslaw, and rye bread for parishioners who lined up in their cars an hour before the official opening, so eager were they to take part in the delicious tradition of fried cod and French fries on the first Friday of Lent.
The organizers at St. Mary wanted the community to feel a sense of togetherness even when they would only be rolling down their windows and saying a brief “thank you” with a smile and a wave as their dinner was safely loaded into their car. Before the orders began to go out, the greeters were reminded to do their best to be bright and cheery, and make sure every person felt appreciated.
“With everything going on this year, and everything we’ve had to give up, we were willing to do whatever it took to give the community a good fish fry,” said Beth Polacheck, who organized and ran the event. As she held a bundle of orders and directed a group of Boy Scouts who delivered each bag to the appropriate car, she didn’t look frazzled by all she’d had to do.
“I think it’s good for people to remember that we’re a family held together by Christ’s love,” she said. “And we have to love one another to remind them.”
With an event that ran so smoothly organized by people who somehow managed to maintain cheery dispositions even as they ran from place to place, it seems almost unfair to other fish fries that the food was as exceptional as the service, the fish perfectly fried, the fries wonderfully crispy. The two taste testers who helped me with my review, aged 9 and 11, both declared it, “The best fish we’ve ever tasted, and we usually just eat the fries and feed the fish to the dog.”