TONAWANDA, N.Y. — There are three seasons here in Western New York: pothole season, summer, and a personal favorite, fish fry season.
But last year, the coronavirus pandemic struck right in the middle of fish fry season here in Western New York, so a lot of them had to shut down.
2 On Your Side headed out to check out a fish fry to figure out how they have adapted to fry up and fling fish to eager customers during a pandemic.
"We've been doing this now for over 20 years," Sheridan Park Fire Company president Paul Palistrant said.
For nonprofit institutions such as the Sheridan Park Fire Company, the yearly fish fry is critically important.
"This would normally be our biggest fundraiser," Palistrant said.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit right when the season started in 2020.
"We actually got a first couple weeks in, and then we had to shut down completely," Palistrant said. "Luckily we were able to get rid of some of the food we had leftover."
A year later a vaccine is available, and slowly those conveniences we took for granted are beginning to return with a few modifications.
"We are doing takeout only this year due to the COVID situation," Palistrant said. "Social distancing food preparations are in place, everyone's gloved obviously mask on."
The food is brought out to designated tables spread throughout the banquet hall hand sanitizer at each station. A quick assembly from different volunteers and runners brings orders to numbered parking spots. The whole operation is like a fish fry ballet.
But the biggest concern for Sheridan Park Fire Company president was safety.
"Keeping people safe is the biggest challenge, Honestly, it's just been somewhat of a challenge," Palistrant said.
The fire company almost chose not to do the fish fry this year. They determined, however, that they could safely and affordably do it. Even if that meant not raising as much money.
"We're just you know doing the best we can like everybody else and you know, hopefully, it all works out," Palistrant said.