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Paczki are a Fat Tuesday sellout in Toledo's Polish Village

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    Volunteer Alfonso Narvaez sports a shirt saying "I Bought Authentic Paczki at the Polish Village" after the paczki sale at Zablocki Senior Center in Toledo on Tuesday. They sold out of paczki around noon.

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    The last few bags await the recipient of an order at paczki sale at Zablocki Senior Center in Toledo on Tuesday. They sold out of paczki around noon.

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    Volunteers Alfonso Narvaez, left, and Julian Mack clean up after after the paczki sale at Zablocki Senior Center in Toledo on Tuesday.

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    Volunteers Kelly Schultz, left, speaks with Brian Holt after the paczki sale at Zablocki Senior Center in Toledo.

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    Signs indicate a sell out after the paczki sale at Zablocki Senior Center.

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    Willy Pearson, who often volunteers at the center, carries out a paczki order saved for him by volunteers after the paczki sale.

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Paczki Day was a success for the annual Lagrange Street Paczki Sale, which sold out of its pre-Lenten treats in record time.

Hungry customers purchased all 1,800 dozen paczkis ordered over three days at the Zablocki Senior Center, and they were gone by noon Tuesday. ONE Village Council hosts the sale every year with proceeds going to various causes in the Polish neighborhoods of Toledo.

ONE Village Council president Alfonso Narvaez said the sale raised about $22,000.

“It’s a tradition for a lot of people,” Mr. Narvaez said. “That’s how we get them to come, but they like seeing what we’re doing in the neighborhood. All the proceeds go to neighborhood cleanups and projects. When we show them what we’ve done and they get to see it, that’s what they like.”

Flavors this year included apple, apricot, blueberry, chocolate, custard, lemon, and raspberry, as well as traditional prune-filled and plain. Mr. Narvaez said custard and chocolate were the most popular.

About 15 volunteers pitched in to help put on this year’s sale, which attracted many regular customers.

“A good portion of our customers are returning customers,” said Ron Jones, staff support for ONE Village Council. “A lot of our customers are folks who used to live in the neighborhood as kids. Once they became adults, they may have moved out of the neighborhood, but they always manage to come back this time of the year for the sale.”

Mr. Narvaez said customers travel from as far away as the Cleveland area to get their hands on the famous homemade pastries.

Paczki popped up in Poland during the Middle Ages where they were typically eaten on Fat Thursday, the final Thursday before Ash Wednesday. In the United States, it’s customary to devour them on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, especially in areas like Toledo with a high number of Polish immigrants and descendants.

The deep-fried dough at the senior center is some of the finest, according to the volunteers.

“I have never had any of the store-bought ones,” Mr. Jones said. “But from the people I talk to, ours are more original. Ours are the original way paczki used to be made back when. So the originality is what draws people back, and I think that separates us.”

For years, ONE Village teamed up with United North to stage the annual Lagrange Street Polish Festival. There was no 2017 event because of United North’s financial issues.

Mr. Jones said a Polish heritage group has taken over the event and is planning a festival for Homecoming Park in Holland.

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebbaBlade.

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