Story and Photos by Alice Gerard
The Grand Island Lions Club’s first spaghetti dinner to offer a dining-in option since 2019 was a big success, said Lions Club Treasurer Tom Witkowski.
This event, the club’s 54th annual spaghetti dinner, was “the best since I started my term as treasurer in 2016,” Witkowski said. “According to the number of returned ticket stubs, just over 400 people attended. I have heard nothing but positive responses from customers, both at and after the event, even today while pulling our signs.”
In both 2021 and 2022, the event, which is held annually in April, was offered only with a drive-thru option. The dinner was canceled in 2020. According to an article in the Island Dispatch in 2021, “To keep servers safe, all dinners must be prepaid and will be delivered to one’s vehicle.”
This year, people had the choice of dining in or takeout meals.
Witkowski, who offered a thank you to everyone who attended the spaghetti dinner, said the new venue for the event, Ellden’s Grill and Banquet, “was splendid in serving over 400 patrons. Ellden’s chef Chris proved his mastery of his trade, using our late Lion Dan ‘The Pasta Man’ Morabito’s unique recipe of blended spices and seasonings. Ellden’s staff and, especially, the youth group Young Life, provided the additional humanpower, helping the entire event run smoothly.”
In addition, Witkowski said, “Our friends in the media were extremely helpful in getting the word out. Our signage even caught the attention of a fellow Lion from Lebanon, Ohio, who stopped by to say hello and give a generous donation to our work as Lions. Truly a remarkable day.”
Proceeds from the Lions Club dinner go to support such projects as Miracle League baseball/beep ball field and associated playground, the club’s annual Special Kids Picnic, the children's playroom and client living room at the Grand Island Family Justice Center satellite, and the Lions Club’s scholarship program.
A customer at the Lions Club’s annual spaghetti dinner offers a donation to a group of Lions: Back row, from left: Lions Paul Krupa, Shelia Ferrentino, Chairman Dick Crawford, Tom Digati and Tom Rusert. Front row: Lions Anne Fahning and Kelly McGarvey.