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Legion dinner night serves packed house
Diners with their plates of food take their seats while others are still at the cafeteria-style food line for the Saturday night American Legion community dinner. It was fish fry night, but there were also plenty of side dishes to enjoy with the fish. Marg Jackson/The Times

After a break for a couple of months, the Escalon American Legion Post was back in business Saturday night for its community dinner.

It was the popular ‘Fish Fry’ dinner, which featured both fried and some grilled fish – primarily bass and rock cod – and the June 15 event at the Post rooms on Second Street drew a large crowd.

About 80 people turned out to enjoy the dinner, which was offered free and also included a wide variety of side dishes, beverages and desserts.

“I just love when everybody gets together; everybody talks and visits and has a good time, it’s just a lot of fun,” said John Blowers, one of the regular ‘chefs’ for the dinner nights.

“I like to do them all, they’re all fun,” he added of always being on the cooking crew, but admitted that the rib dinner is the one he likes to eat the most.

Post member Vince Giovaniello typically keeps the count of diners and said one of the largest dinner nights was in August of 2023, just last year, when the fish fry drew 86 diners.

“Hamburgers, soups and stews, they all draw a lot,” he said.

Along with the dinner – donations are accepted – the third Saturday night gathering gives people the chance to come together for an evening of socialization and it serves as a way for the Legion Post members to thank the community for their continued support.

Among those on hand Saturday night was Mike Christensen, who has just taken over as Post Commander for Escalon. Now at the helm of the Gustafson-Thompson Post 263, Christensen said he has been with the local Post for a couple of years, after moving to this area.

He spent 24 years in the Army and said his goal as commander is to increase the number of members in the Post.

“These guys are all working so hard,” he said of the active members, who put on all the events and turn out for the various parades, ceremonies and honor guard assignments. “Recruiting is my main goal.”

He said he’s more than happy to address other community service groups, the city council, the school board; anywhere he can go to talk about the local Legion Post and seek support and possible new members from the ranks of those who served in the military.

Christensen also previously lived in both the Sacramento and Santa Cruz areas. But settled here now, he is eager to lead the local veterans and make sure they have a solid vision for the future.

“I’m about to become very busy,” he said with a smile.

The regular monthly meetings of the American Legion Post 263 are the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Post, 1531 Second St.; the next one will be on July 9.

New Escalon American Legion Post Commander Mike Christensen has just taken over the role and is looking forward to serving at the helm of Post 263. Marg Jackson/The Times
At the Saturday night fish fry, James Nunes, at left, assists as George ‘Pineapple’ Tavares scoops the fried fish onto the platter. The Legion dinner for the community drew nearly 80 diners. Marg Jackson/The Times
Part of the clean up crew, working in the kitchen, was the husband-and-wife team of Gary and Lucy Brenner. They first enjoyed the Saturday evening meal, then got to work doing the dishes. Marg Jackson/The Times