It was spaghetti fever time again last Sunday, as some 3,000 Salt Lake-area pasta lovers made the annual trek to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
As the Rev. Francis B. Pellegrino pointed out, however, the event was more than just another church fund-raiser - it was a community celebration.The annual dinner was begun in 1935 and, with the exception of a short period during World War II when the dinner was not held, has been a focal point of community pride and cohesiveness in Magna.
"It's no longer just a church event," said the Rev. Pellegrino, "it involves the whole community and is something everyone looks forward to."
Lani Sadler, who has helped mastermind the event for more than 10 years, agreed. "Even when we went through the depressed time with Kennecott closed down there was no thought to canceling."
Until then, the dinner was held twice yearly, once in the spring and again in the fall. Sadler said even with depressed economic conditions, people were upset that the spring dinner was canceled. "We have to keep it a secret as to whose decision it was to make this only once a year. We wouldn't want him to get in trouble."
The event is the major fund-raiser of the year for the small church. Some $4,500 in profit is expected. As the Rev. Pellegrino explained it, the dinner is not a "make or break" financial proposition for the parish, but it does play an important role in keeping the church in proper repair and in funding many church activities such as youth dances, a basketball program and Sunday school activities.
But the Rev. Pellegrino plays down the importance of the fund-raising and focuses on the community involvement. With just 350 families in the parish, participation by just about every family is needed to make it work. "We have just about everyone participating - from the parents right down to the kids."
And not just parishioners are involved. Saddler said many of the youth helping with the serving and cleanup chores were not Catholics, further evidence that the dinner is becoming a community event.
News of the dinner has spread far beyond Magna. Some of those attending were from Tooele, some from Holladay, some from West Valley City and some from Bountiful.
In 1935, the event started with 10 pounds of meat and some tomato paste. Some 15,000 meatballs, 500 gallons of spaghetti sauce and 1,000 pounds of noodles were consumed at Sunday's dinner.
"I think it started out as a fund-raiser but it has become a community event," said Sadler. "It's nice to make some money for the church, but I think the real good is what it does for the parish family and the community."