A 65-year-old tradition turned a new page Saturday with Fairview Park in Costa Mesa hosting the annual Fish Fry and Carnival.
To some, it was a tradition broken, but for past Lions Club president Jim Ferryman, every deep fryer has a silver lining.
"I think that it's going to be good this year," Ferryman, 63, said. "And in the long run, this is a better venue. There is room to expand and we'll be able to fine tune the event itself."
Past years saw the Fish Fry at Lions Park — named for the Lions Club, which hosts the annual event — but city officials asked the club to relocate for fear that the newly renovated Davis Field would be damaged by the carnival rides, Ferryman said.
In addition to a beer and wine garden — a first for the event — future Fish Frys may see hay rides and the return of a popular taco booth, Ferryman said.
Alcohol sales could boost proceeds, which go to support local schools and youth sports programs, by as much as $6,000, Ferryman said.
While the event had once brought in more than $100,000, proceeds have lagged since a parade was discontinued years ago. The event raised about $28,000 last year, Ferryman said.
However, as with any new change, not all the kinks were worked out by opening day. Parking available at Estancia High School and in a lot across from Fairview Park was considered by many to be inconvenient and potentially dangerous.
"Parking is an issue," said Jim Kellogg, 70, a Laguna Beach native. "For elderly people to have to walk 500 yards, it's ridiculous. And to have to cross the street with kids? It's terrible."
Huntington Beach resident Susan Edwards, 68, who has some difficulty walking, also agreed parking was a problem.
But it didn't keep her and her husband, Jim Edwards, 71, from enjoying the $10 fish plate, which came with battered and fried Atlantic Cod, French fries and Newport Rib Company cole slaw.
"The fish is great," Susan Edwards said. "For $10, you can't go anywhere and get a good, fresh cod. We are picky about our fish and chips, too."
Supporting the Lions Club and it's charitable projects is the larger draw for the couple, one which keeps them coming back year after year, she said.
"I know what they do with their money," Susan Edwards said. "They have a lot of philanthropy, that's why I support them.
The Fish Fry continues from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at Fairview Park, 2525 Placentia Ave., with carnival rides, entertainment, food and at 1 p.m., the annual "Cutest Baby" contest. Admission is free.