The best fried fish in the area is once again available in Bridge City. The Knights of Columbus Santa Maria Council 3406 is conducting the annual fish fry at the KC Hall in Bridge City. Starting at 11 A.M. on each Friday during the Lenten season, the dinners are available for dine-in or take out.

The fish fry started eight years ago and has been the major fundraiser for the council. Leon Pittman, Grand Knight of the Council, has been involved with the project for five of those years. Pittman said,

“The major focus of this Council is charity and the fish fries gave us the ability last year to give $2,000.00 in scholarships. We gave four $500scholarships,” he said.

The council buys all of the supplies for the fish fries at the same wholesale cost as a restaurant. The only exception is that the KCs are tax-free. The ability to earn the money they do comes from the support of the community and the large amount of volunteer labor from the council members and their wives.

“We probably have 30 to 35 people working here today, and we especially want to thank the wives of the members for the great amount of help they give us,” Pittman said this past Friday.

One of the volunteers was Katherine Norris. Norris’ late husband A. J., known to his friends as “Poo-Poo”, was instrumental in starting the fish fry project and donated the first fish used.

“We want to thank all the people who visit us each year and buy our fish. They really help our community,” Mrs. Norris said. Since the death of her husband Norris has remained active with the project and has remained in charge of the coleslaw. “It is my special blend,” she said.

Through the years, the fish fries have attracted more customers.

“This year we will probably sell about 300 to 350 pounds of fish and five boxes of potatoes and another five or so boxes of hush puppies. These are large boxes weighing 25 and 30 pounds,” Pittman said.

Some volunteers mix the fish with the cornmeal mix for frying, others operate the commercial grade fryers doing the cooking. Others carry the food to the tables where it is distributed, and some fill orders. It is a busy place with everyone having plenty of work to do to keep the meals moving. They all work together with the atmosphere of one big family.

There is a wait for the orders to be filled at times but the customers see the work going on and wait patiently for their orders to be filled. It is great food at a good price and all the money goes back into the community.

Pittman stressed that “our main focus is charity. We give money to the Bridge City-Orangefield Ministerial Alliance, Orange Christian Services, the Hospitality House in Port Arthur, and we have done fund raising for the Birthright Organization. In 2007 we gave that group $500.”

The council rotates its donations among groups from year to year. They do have some groups that they donate to each year.

“The main focus of the fish fry is the scholarship program, but if other needs come up they will be addressed. One year the Bridge City Public Library benefited from a fund raiser and last year we gave $600 to Orange Christian Services,” Pittman said.

The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization of Catholic men in good standing with the Church. Father Michael J. McGivney started the organization in 1882. The original focus was to provide assistance to widows and orphans. That focus has expanded tremendously over the years.

Santa Maria Council 3406 at St. Henry’s Church was started in 1951. There are two original members, Tony Castino and Mayo LeBlanc.

There are different levels of service in the Knights of Columbus. The First, Second and Third Degrees serve mainly on the level of the local church. The Fourth Degree Knights have duties that serve the diocese. The Fourth Degree Knights are known for their more formal dress.

There are four more Fridays for the fish fry to be held, Feb 22 and 29 and March 7 and 14. The group starts serving at 11 and sells out fast. The cost is $7 per plate with delivery available for large orders.