By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The Grand Island Lions Club returned to a familiar location at 100 Whitehaven Road, the Byblos Niagara Resort & Spa, for the 47th edition of the club's spaghetti dinner fundraiser.
Lions Club President Tom Rusert said it was nice to be back in the main ballroom Monday.
"It's like home for our annual event," he said.
Patrons enjoyed the return, and the meatballs from John's Pizza & Subs.
"We have wonderful participation by Island businesses, helping us with different products for the spaghetti dinner," said Lion Dick Crawford, dinner chairman. "The big key, main sponsor is Tops. They have been around almost for the 47 years that we've been doing the dinner."
Crawford noted the Grand Island Lions Club is celebrating its 60th year in 2016. He said Byblos has been a home for many of the 47 years, and the hotel on the river offers Lions the help of many familiar friends.
"The relationship with Byblos and manager Scott Swagler has been fantastic. He and his staff do a wonderful job of assisting us with setup, and they do a wonderful job of helping out in the kitchen and helping our saucemaker, Dan Morabito," Crawford said. He praised Tony Dragonette of Byblos for his work in the kitchen.
In addition to Lions, volunteer help came from Young Life members, students from high school government classes, and the Island businesses that contributed over 40 baskets for raffle, Crawford said.
Money from the spaghetti dinner supports the annual Special Kids Picnic, which Lions Club President Tom Rusert called "a wonderful day for the kids with disabilities." He noted between 800 to 1,000 children and councilors take part in the picnic, which offers pony rides, music, games, and picnic food. Many enjoy the rare opportunity for a boat ride on the Niagara River.
"It's our biggest charitable event of the year, but, of course, we do many other fundraisers and make numerous donations to families in need," Rusert said.
"It's sort of the Grand Island legacy event," Rusert said of the picnic.
The Special Kids Picnic is Wednesday, July 20, at the Buffalo Launch Club.
Lion Mark Frentzel dishes up the spaghetti Monday at Byblos Niagara Resort & Spa during the annual Lions Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser.