Annual fish fry may be cooked

Lions Club event has taken place at Lions Park for 59 of its 61 years, but next year it could be displaced by a skate park.

August 15, 2007|By Alicia Robinson

Moving Costa Mesa's annual Lions Club fish fry out of Lions Park may spell the death of the event that has run for six decades, Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club board member Mike Scheafer said Tuesday.

As Scheafer and other Lions try to plan for the 2008 fish fry, they'll discuss contingency plans in case they're displaced. And they could be, if the city builds a second skate park near Park Avenue and West 18th Street.

The fish fry, which is always the weekend after Memorial Day, has taken place at Lions Park for 59 of its 61 years.


The other two years it was at Orange Coast College, but the college and club's relationship ended after a 2001 lawsuit filed by a woman who twisted an ankle stepping off a curb at the school.

Now the City Council wants to build a skate park in Lions Park, possibly where the picnic shelter used for the fish fry stands.

The council next week will vote on a contract for preliminary design of the skate park. While community input will be gathered and the council has not made a final decision, no other skate park sites are being studied.

"I think the overriding sentiment among the Lions is that if we have to move from Lions Park, it will probably kill the fish fry," Scheafer said. "We're associated with Lions Park. The last time we moved it nearly killed our Lions Club."

City officials met with Scheafer last week to talk about the possibility of moving the fish fry to Fairview Park and about reinstating the parade that was once a part of the festivities but was canceled when the fry moved in 1998.

Fairview Park doesn't have a kitchen, so holding the fish fry there could mean using the kitchen at Estancia High School or the city fire station nearby.

On the other hand, Scheafer said, holding the event at Fairview Park might attract more people because the carnival rides would be visible from Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley. "There's all kinds of arguments for and against it," he said. "I just think it's going to be hard to move it."

Councilwoman Wendy Leece pointed out in an e-mail that the ball field at Lions Park has to be repaired every year after the fish fry because of damage from carnival rides. "I think to have more room for the rides, to attract more traffic and to consider reviving the parade all feed into letting people know about a new location," she wrote.

City Manager Allan Roeder said the city would have to evaluate whether the fish fry could move to another part of Lions Park.

Scheafer said the uncertainty about a venue means plans for next year's fish fry will be put on hold.

Before council members make a decision on the fish fry, they'll have to hash out what they want in a skate park.

"I just want to make sure we don't destroy a community tradition, and if we're going to build a second skate park, shouldn't it be bigger and better?" Councilwoman Katrina Foley said. "It won't be at Lions Park."

  • ALICIA ROBINSON may be reached at (714) 966-4626 or at

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