This year, a new but popular tradition at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in North Tonawanda will begin another year of briging the community together to enjoy a local selection of traditional Christmas sweets.
The parish's Old World Christmas Cookie Shoppe, which began in December 2013, is back for a third year, with cookies on sale on Sunday, Dec. 13, from noon to 2 p.m., for $10 per pound.
Each year, the sale features an assortment of traditional recipes courtesy of its parishioners. According to Shannon Kish, the event's organizer, the cookie shop has grown since its inception so she is looking for the biggest one yet. The parish enlists the help of its parishioners, who bake homemade cookies based on unique family recipes and those of many different ethnic backgrounds.
"We open Our Lady of Czestochowa's parish hall to the public," Kish said. "The cookies are hand-selected, and we decoratively wrap them for the customers, and we have Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus there for the kids with photographs, and little small gifts for each one of the kids."
The cookies that are being offered for sale include Polish, Italian and other cookies, including pizelles, which Kish said are always popular. Each year, the cookie sale helps the community by bringing many people together, including those of other faiths who wish to enjoy the special home-baked treats.
"It brings the whole community out," Kish said. "It brings the Catholic parishes, plus members of the community out to enjoy some of the old-time enjoyments of the traditional holidays."
Kish and co-chair Robin Royer plan the event with the help of a committee of parishioners of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The involvement from the local parish community is "huge," Kish noted. In 2013, they prepared a total of 350 pounds of cookies and sold out in less than an hour. Last year, the parish sold more than 500 pounds of donated cookies in just over two hours, which Kish said shows its popularity.
"It's huge. It really took off," Kish said. "It is much bigger than we thought, and it has gotten bigger."