Fish Day History

The next celebration promises more of the excitement, entertainment and family fun on the third Saturday in July.

But the day-long celebration is more than just fun, games and food.

Fish Day has been the financial lifeline for nine civic organizations that run the fish and chips stands throughout the day, just as they have since 1964. The stands profits are turned back to the community in a variety of ways, Some are easy visible from the Fish Day grounds along the Lake Michigan waterfront. Rotary Park, the harbor walk that leads to the grounds, Kiwanis Pavilion and the marina's fish cleaning stations are enjoyed by residents and visitors.

Other contributions to the community are not as easy to see, but they are part of the quality of life. Scholarships, recreational programs, assistance for people who have met life-challenging problems, Scout troops, and a variety of other efforts are beneficiaries of the celebration.

One of the attractions of the stands is that each of the nine organizations serves the same menu that has been prepared since the first Fish Day on August 21, 1965 -- deep-fried fish and chips, beer and soda.

Volunteers have become experts at frying the fish and chips, dipping into buckets of ice to provide the orders for soda and tapping half-barrels of beer to keep the customers satisfied at the stands located along the lakefront from Upper Lake Park to the marina.

Volunteers on the Fish Day committee and board of directors work year round to provide the entertainment and related activities that make the 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. event a successful celebration. There are no paid positions for this organization. The goal is to provide a great day at family friendly prices. The number of people attending each year's Fish Day shows the volunteers are meeting that goal.

The parade has been part of the past Fish Day celebrations and will be a major attraction of this year as well. The parade steps off on Wisconsin Street at Walters Street and moves down St. Mary's Hill through the downtown area, turns at Grand Avenue and ends at Milwaukee Street.

Music remains an integral part of the program. Stages located along the lakefront, including the main stage, are the settings for music appealing to all ages.

Additions have been made to the day since its inception in 1965.

The Fish Day Run and Walk that benefits Portal Industries attracts hundred of runners every year. The 8 a.m. starters gun officially opens the day.

At 10 a.m. the stands open, the parade begins and the Fish Day celebration is underway. The carnival rides are in operation, helicopter rides take off and the vendors are ready for customers.

The Arts and Crafts Fair and Custom Car and Hot Rod Show participants are ready for visitors who want to see the best work of local artisans and the unique vehicles. Both events are held in Upper Lake Park.

A carnival, ice cream eating and smoked fish eating contests are other traditional enticements for young and old.

No celebration is complete without fireworks. And just as the first Fish Day, the fireworks display that completes the day is spectacular. The sky over downtown Port Washington is filled with color as the pyrotechnic display is sent toward the heavens from the harbor dock.

As the 10 p.m. fireworks finale reverberates over the festival grounds, members of the Fish Day committee will gather to hold their review of the day and start planning for the next celebration on the third Saturday in July.