Passing the parmesan

St. Patrick’s Church to host ‘famous’ spaghetti dinner

The Inter-Mountain photos by Shannon Bennett Campbell Among usual attendees, Mary and John Vallelonga, left, enjoy their meal with John and Corena Belan, right.

COALTON — Spring has had a difficult time this year making an appearance, but one Randolph County community never lets us down during May.

Members of Coalton’s St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Parish will don colorful aprons and have large serving spoons ready to serve Sunday in one of their famous spaghetti dinners from noon to 5 p.m.

Beginning in the early 1980s, a group of well-known Italian cooks including Irene DeMotto, Mary Butch, Anne Polce, Josephine Alteri and one of their Ricottilli friends served as the nucleus of initiating this affair. At their first feed, approximately 400 dinners were served.

Today, it is not uncommon for three times that number to stand in line and wait for authentic Olde World sauce and meatballs. Usually, 2,400 meatballs have to be prepared to serve the hungry crowd.

Along with the wonderful spaghetti, a tossed salad, fresh Italian bread, a choice of drinks and a variety of desserts are offered. A very nice feature of this dinner is that the children help with serving, ensuring future generations will carry on the tradition.

Seen amid the steaming spaghetti, Pat Rossi holds one of more than 1,000 plates that will be prepared by the kitchen’s several chefs for dinner patrons at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Coalton.

Often, attendees will hear the lilt of upbeat accordion music as they get closer to the Church Hall. The musician at the last dinner stole the show as he played favorite polka tunes and spoke with his parent’s native Italian accent. He played throughout the afternoon while the mounds of pasta were disappearing from plates.

It is no secret that the dinner staff has to begin preparing for this event several days ahead. Rooms throughout the Parish Hall are designated for salads and desserts where workers cut fresh lettuce and homemade pies and cakes to keep up with the endless lines that one finds when arriving.

People never seem to mind waiting their turn to be served, because they know they will have the finest of meals when they finally take their seat. Regular attendees also know that they will get reacquainted with friends they have met there from past years. While this activity takes a little time, everyone joins in the festivity and never has a need to eat supper that evening. In fact, it is not unusual for many take-home containers to leave the hall, because it is difficult to consume all that one is given.

The many Italians who moved to America and settled in this area where mining was prominent in the 1900s probably never envisioned that their traditions would be so rightly preserved. I think they would be very proud that their great-grandchildren renew each year a wonderful routine of bringing the community together to enjoy such a rich part of their heritage.

It is Randolph County’s privilege to participate in this dinner and all will be treated with kindness and appreciation. We hope those who keep this tradition alive know we look forward to it each year and even consider it one of life’s blessings.

Accordion music livens the atmosphere during a spaghetti dinner at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Parish.

Brandon Rossi serves salads as guests take their seats.

Linda Wilmoth, left, assists a young helper with her dessert tray.