BOARDMAN, Ohio- It's an Italian Christmas tradition; the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The annual seaside meals mean big business for one local Italian market.
The day begins at 2 a.m. at Lariccia's Italian Market Place on Southern Boulevard, with expectations to sell more than 1,500 pounds of seafood in one morning.
"Some say it has to do with the seven sacriments, others say it has to do with the creation of the earth," Tessa Allegretto said, store owner.
Allegretto is a third generation owner of the business that's been a staple since 1907. She says their loyal customers are also like family.
"It's great, because the customers are so wonderful, everybody sees each other and they'll say 'Oh we'll see you next year', and they kind of meet here and they give out cookies," Allegretto said.
Snails, smelts, shrimp, mussels, clams and large fish like tuna and salmon were prepared in anticipation of being weighed, packaged and purchased.
Customers waited patiently in a long line to take home the most important ingredients of their Christmas meals before celebrating.
"It's like tradition to come here every year and stand in line," Peggy Gennaro said.
Tony Serluco of Boardman says his family incorporates the seafood dishes during Christmas time, even though meals have been modified over the years.
"Not everybody does the same thing like they used to, so we have the shrimp, then we'll have some white fish, we'll have antipasto, meatless antipasta, and then tomorrow, we'll have all our meat courses," Serluco said.
Carrying stacks of take-out boxes back to their cars, those who arrived early for fish considered their purchases the best catch of the day.