‘Fishnado’ fish fry makes landfall in Seal Beach

Did you know the Seal Beach Lions Club is the most massive club in the Western hemisphere? They are the tenth largest club in the world, beaten only by clubs in India and China. Courtesy photo

75th annual event offers music, food drinks and more

The 75th annual Lions Fish Fry, “FISHNADO” on July 20 and 21 in Eisenhower Park at the foot of the Pier is the single longest continuously operating, free to the public and non-profit fundraising special event that happens in Seal Beach. Presented by title sponsor Republic Services and supported by the City of Seal Beach, South Coast Seafood, the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce, Baytown Realty and Jim Klisanin, and Sun News as partners, the event is going to be better than ever.

Starting on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. come and enjoy the Fish Fry. The Lions have been working hard to make this year collaborative with our club’s 80th anniversary. As we continue to add value to the event, and in honor of our 80th anniversary, we will be handing out free eyeglass for reading (simply called “readers”) of various strengths to those who might need them. It is worth noting why the Lions produce this event. Even more importantly, why should you attend? In 1917, Melvin Jones, a 38-year-old Chicago business leader, asked a world-changing and straightforward question, “what if people put their talents to work improving their communities?” With this question and some vibrant leadership, 101 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization. Our “Pride of Lions” is 1.45 million members in more than 46,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let’s improve our communities. Did you know the Seal Beach Lions Club is the most massive club in the Western hemisphere? We are the 10th largest club in the world, beaten only by clubs in India and China. That is nearly unbelievable, considering how relatively small our community is.

Lions give back to their community in events, scholarships, and donations almost $100,000 per year. Some examples are: the Marcia Haley and Nancy Grgas Scholarship Funds, supporting the Seal Beach Classic Car Show with our Pancake Breakfast, MCing and providing support to the Christmas Tree Lighting, California Lions Friends in Sight (CLFIS) free vision screenings and eyeglass distribution, meals at the Ronald McDonald house for residents, support for all of our veterans through gift packs and support of the VA, developing leadership in our four Leo’s programs, producing and enhancing the Arts & Crafts Faire, presenting the Christmas Parade, taking the blind and visually impaired with the Seal Beach Yacht Club to “Sailing with the Wind” and so many other events as part of the heritage of Seal Beach. We welcome you when you join the Seal Beach Lions to share your ideas, and we together can make it happen.

In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, and challenged Lions to become “Knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” With that challenge, Lions all over the world have become the tireless advocacy and aid agency for the blind and visually impaired. The Seal Beach Lions have become particularly active in this area led by Lions Cathy and Scott Newton, former Queen of Hearts Adrianna Zigenbusch and her husband, Immediate Past President Ryan Zigenbusch. Just last year alone, our Lions club has processed and helped at sight clinics over 15,000 people, from Mexico throughout California and even in our town of Seal Beach.

Fish Fry events have been a staple of many community organizations, and notably the Lions from coast to coast. For Seal Beach, the Lions produce many functions, but it is the Fish Fry that the Lions ask our community to give and attend. This year’s co-chairs Mike Haley and Scott Newton have produced considerable improvements in flow for the food and beverage lines.

Saturday begins at 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., enjoy Sound Channel; at 1 p.m., Joe Schmoe takes the stage. Did you know that Joe Schmoe has performed at every fish fry since we started having bands about 25 years ago? They keep coming back because not only does the crowd love them, they are supporters of the Lions and our club specifically. Robby Armstrong, local and fantastic musician in our community will play from 3 to 4:45 p.m. and wrapping up on Saturday, Lucky Jack, returns to close out from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday starts with The Kor 4 from 11 a.m. to noon and is followed by a nationally produced and award-winning recording artist (who is a new Lion as well), Jennifer Corday from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. When we spoke to Jennifer last Wednesday at the Chamber of Commerce Summer Concert Series; she said, “Joining the Lions and continuing to share my music and the blending of my fans and friends with this amazing new group of friends has been so amazing. I have never felt so welcomed in a community organization, and I can’t wait to sing and play my heart out for the Lions and Seal Beach!”

After Jennifer wraps up, Flying Squad will lift us to new dancing and singing heights from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Then, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Persons of Interest will lead us up to the Opportunity Drawing around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Everyone packs in for that drawing and announcement and be sure to keep with us because Xntricks will bring us to a close from 5 to 6 p.m. (end of the Fry) that evening.

As of press time, there may be a few of Car Opportunity Drawing tickets available on Saturday morning for the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek as the lead prize, with a MacBook Air, and an Apple Watch for the opportunity drawing. Reach out to Seal Beach Lions President Mike Gibbons by email president@sealbeachlions.org if you want to try to get one of the last tickets.

In 1951 Lions club secretary, Buell Brown wrote the club minutes, “It is the only event of the year that brings the people of the town together for a good old fashion visit, and that one item make our Fish Fry a truly worthwhile Lions activity. The Fish Fry has never been operated with the idea of making any money, just friends, yet it has never failed to pay us for our effort, with a nice sum for the treasury.” Lunch that year was a dime. Whole dinners are sold for a bit more now, and it is still a great value.

Please be sure to thank a Lion too. We are an all-volunteer organization with no administrative overhead, so 100% of all proceeds go back into our community, school district, local events & non-profits as well as California and international relief resources. Our club was proud to respond with medical equipment and supplies to Paradise, CA along with other communities so devastated by fires this year. It takes over 250 Lions and 100 LEOs to produce this event. Remember, there is always room for one more Lion in our club! Attendance is still free, and there is band entertainment, a continuous merchant opportunity drawing, sponsored by the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce. We hope you will buy some food and drink (please don’t bring your own) and enjoy the event. Information about parking, FAQs and other information including the band line up may also be found on our website at sealbeachlions.org, during the day of the Fry, please go to the Information Booth. This will also have the VIP tickets and wristbands for those who need to get those items redeemed for food and beverages.

So be sure to come on down to the Fish Fry and enjoy music, some age-appropriate beverages, fish, hot dogs or brats and the best of Seal Beach’s laid-back community feel. Be sure to carpool, ride bikes, scooter, or walk to our Fish Fry; it is a great way to avoid filling up all that parking on residential streets. The 8th and 10th street beach parking lots will be open for parking, and it will be limited. See you at the Fish Fry!

Seth Eaker is past president, current director and the PR & Marketing Chairman for the Seal Beach Lions. He also serves the Lions District 4L-4 as Global Leadership Team chairman.