The Pickerington Lions Club will honor a fallen public servant during its annual Labor Day Parade and Fish Fry on Monday, Sept. 2.
Club members said they hope the 71st rendition of the event will bring people together and raise money for community events.
And, of course, there will be fish sandwiches and dinners.
One change, however, will be the absence of John Eisel, who since 1989 spent many a Labor Day working or visiting the parade and fish fry either as a Violet Township firefighter, the township's fire chief or its director of operations.
Eisel died July 5, following what colleagues believe was a heart attack suffered at his Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, vacation home. He was 55.
The Lions Club named Eisel's family the parade grand marshals.
"The whole idea was to honor John and remember and memorialize John," said Brian Fox, Pickerington Lions Club president. "We thought we'd ask the family to stand in for him."
Eisel served as a Violet Township firefighter from 1989 until the time he was promoted to chief in January 2009.
He became director of operations for the township in July 2014.
"John has been just a great public servant over so many years, certainly in the fire department, as well as in his administrative role at the township," Fox said. "Most of the Lions Club members knew him personally and were definitely affected by his loss.
"We wanted to honor him."
Eisel's family will preside over a parade that will start at 10 a.m. It will step off from Pickerington High School Central, 300 Opportunity Way, and travel north on Lockville Road, west on Columbus Street and south on Hill Road, ending at Pickerington Ridgeview Junior High School.
In addition to the parade, the tradition of the fish fry in Victory Park, 100 Lockville Road, will continue.
The fish fry begins at 11 a.m. and will run until 2 p.m. It will feature fish dinners (a fish sandwich, fries and cole slaw) for $7, fish sandwiches for $4, French fries for $3 and hotdogs for $1.
Fox said the event helps promote community in Pickerington and Violet Township, while raising money for Lions Club events and programming.
"On a good year -- if it's not raining and it's not 1,000 degrees outside -- hopefully, we could make $4,000 to $5,000," he said. "On bad years, we make $1,000 to $2,000.
"All of that money we make goes back to the public for charitable events and programs."
Fox said the Lions also have opened the event over the years to allow other groups to raise money.
That includes the Pickerington Senior Center, which sells bags of homemade noodles, and Boy Scout Troop 256, which sells soda and water.
This year, a coalition of governments and organizations whose aim is to connect people in need to a wide range of resources will participate by running inflatable amusements.
Wristbands for the amusements can be purchased for $5, and proceeds will go to the Pickerington Area Resource Coalition. PARC, in turn, will donate the funds to coalition member, the Pickerington Food Pantry, to aid its summer meal program.
According to Pickerington Food Pantry Executive Director Vanessa Niekamp, PARC consists of 18 members, ranging from public entities such as the city of Pickerington and Violet Township, to Pickerington Schools and the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office, to churches, the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce and nonprofit organizations such as the food pantry, Life Care Alliance Meals on Wheels and New Horizons Mental Health.
"PARC has been formed to enhance community awareness about resources available to assist in times of need," Niekamp said. "The coalition members provide many different resources; from basic needs, food, clothing, housing help to medical equipment, furniture, resume writing and job training."
A complete list of PARC members and more information about the coalition is available at pcmafoodpantry.org/pickerington-area-resource-coalition-parc/.
People in need of assistance offered by PARC members are asked to contact Fairfield County 211 at:
* 740-687- 0500 or 1-800- 825-0841
* Crisis Hotline: 740-687-8255 (TALK)
* Email: email@example.com
"PARC utilizes the services of Fairfield County 211 to help those in need get referrals for programs that can assist them," Niekamp said. "211 will also look to PARC to help when there is no program available."
More information about the Lions Day Parade and Fish Fry is available at e-clubhouse.org/sites/pickeringtonoh.