ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – It’s that time of year again, when thousands of St. Louisans fill the dining halls of their churches for the annual Lenten fish fries. However, it’s not just about the fish. Each of these parishes has their own unique traditions for the Friday fish fry.
St. Ferdinand Church in Florissant has held its fish fry for 60 years. Phyllis Oberlohr has been coming for 40. She says, “We love it, it’s good fish, it’s just a tradition.”
The church serves a ton of fish, literally. This Friday alone, they fried more than 2,000 pounds of mouth-watering cod.
Last year, a parishioner found a cod in the shape of an angel. Rumor has it; it’s still frozen in her freezer. Fish fry volunteer Darlene Bomar recalls, “It looked exactly like an angel, I mean we showed it to people—it’s like God was sending his angels to watch over us!”
In south St. Louis, St. Stephen Protomartyr has a smaller fish fry with more menu options; they call it quality over quantity. Fish fry organizer Tom Roth explains, “We’ve got baked cod, fried cod, we try to keep it more on the health aspect, the tacos are very, very good.”
Proceeds from this fish fry benefit the church’s school, and each year, these fish fries bring in roughly $16,000. Extra attendance is thanks to coupons given out to the public, and the church mascot, Sharky the Shark, standing on street corners, luring the hungry inside to eat.
Just down the street on South Grand Avenue, St. Pius V is considered to have one of the fanciest fish fries in St. Louis, because of its live band and meals served on fine china. But the pretty porcelain has a purpose. Church Pastor John Vien says, “When we started the fish fry so many years ago, we decided that we wanted to be green and promote our environment, so we had china from when our school was here, so we said let’s use that.”
No matter how the hungry are reeled in, at the end of the day, it’s all about bringing people together for good food, religion and tradition.
Roth explains, “Sometimes you think, they’re gonna come here one time, they’re not gonna want to come back again, but they come every Friday.”
If you’re looking to find a fish fry for next Friday, check out our FOX2 Fish Fry Finder.