By Alice E. Gerard
Preparations for the Grand Island Lions Club's annual spaghetti dinner began at 3 p.m. Sunday, a full day before the dinner.
"We started at 3 o'clock on Sunday, with the assistance of the Radisson and some Lions Club members and Young Life members. We set the tables, got everything ready for the set up," said Richard Crawford, event chair.
"Then we came in at 9:30 this morning, and we started to prepare the sauce and the meatballs. After they were done and cooked, we started cooking the spaghetti. Now we're just hoping to serve to our last meal and our last customer and have a very happy event," Crawford explained.
The sauce is made by Lions Club member Dan Morabito. Crawford said, "He has a great recipe and he helps doctor up the sauce and turn it into a very special meal for the day."
The spaghetti dinner has been an annual event for the past 49 years, said Crawford. He explained that the money raised from the dinner goes to support the Lions Club's annual Special Kids Picnic and that the spaghetti dinner usually raises approximately $4,000.
"The event has been very successful over the years, with the support of the community, who comes here and has a great meal of spaghetti, meatballs, and bread, as well as desserts. This event helps us run our Special Kids Picnic, which we hold at the Buffalo Launch Club on the third Wednesday in July. We get over 1,000 children and adults with special needs that we take out for a boat ride, and we provide them with a picnic meal of hot dogs and hamburgers and pop and popcorn. A lot of different events go on there. The Shriners offer rides on their cars. There's horseback riding. The fire company shows up. It's an all-around great day that these children and adults don't get to experience many times in their lives. We're fortunate enough to have great volunteers from our community and throughout Western New York, who assist us in that event," said Crawford.
Henry Lobl, president of the Lions Club, said, "I love the event. It's just something that I look forward to all year long." He added that he likes "having everybody receive their food in a timely fashion."
Tom Witkowski, a member of the Lions Club, was selling tickets. He said, "Ticket sales are doing wonderful. We have a roomful of people. It's always wonderful that the community comes and helps us out."
Sue Marston, who attended the spaghetti dinner with her husband Pete Marston Jr., and their son, Pete Marston III, said, "I like to come because there's a ton of people that we see that we don't normally get to see. They do a fantastic job, and it's a great basket raffle. The spaghetti is excellent. They do a great job, as always."
Lions Club member Cindy Sharpe serves spaghetti dishes up a plate. (Photo by Alice E. Gerard)
Members of Young Life served spaghetti. (Photo by Alice E. Gerard)