About 150 happy, satiated crab lovers at Santa Clara American Legion Post 419’s annual crab feed Jan. 28 indulged in 700 pounds–all they could eat–of table ready, fresh Dungeness crab.
“We love the crab dinner, and we love supporting the American Legion and the local community. We live in Santa Clara,” said Navy veteran Ed Blanchette, sitting with friends at a table for eight.
“This event fills the house. Everybody loves crab,” said Navy veteran Gene Grundstrom, past post adjutant. “It’s all you can eat of everything. And usually we don’t run out of salad!”
The $45 per person dinner, prepared by a volunteer team and served family style, began with a tossed green salad and garlic bread, followed by pasta. Then came a plastic bucket of crab for each table. All the diners donned plastic bibs. Those in the know, brought their own crab crackers and crab forks.
“I was born in San Francisco, and I used to go crabbing myself. I have a big family and we all love crab,” said post finance officer Marty McCormick, a Navy veteran. “The quality of the crab we serve is fabulous. Our vendor takes good care of us.”
“This is one of our most popular events. We have a lot of return customers from the community who come for the value we give,” said post commander Jeffrey Driskell, an Air Force veteran. “This gives us a chance to introduce our veterans’ programs to the community.”
The entire net proceeds of the crab feed ($3,500 in 2016) are designated for programs benefitting veterans and their families. For example, Wreaths across America (www.wreathsacrossamerica.org), which places wreaths on veterans’ graves each December; Operation: Care and Comfort (www.occ-usa.org), which sends care packages to troops; and Operation Freedom Paws (www.operationfreedompaws.org), which enables veterans with disabilities, including PTSD, to train their own service dogs rescued from shelters.
“We try and do as much good as we can and spread it around to those in need,” said Driskell.
“We’re thankful that healthy crabs are back,” said diner Lee Broughman, at a long table with 11 friends.
The opening of the commercial crab fishing season (November through June) was delayed in some West Coast locations because the crabs were tainted by domoic acid, a neurotoxin caused by harmful algae blooms.
A different setback to the crab season was a short strike by crab fishermen in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. They went on strike from about Dec. 28, 2016, to Jan. 6, 2017, over the wholesale price of Dungeness crab. Pacific Seafood Group, a principal wholesale buyer, wanted to lower the price they paid from $3 per pound to $2.75. A compromise was reached at $2.875 per pound.
The American Legion is an organization of veterans helping veterans and their families. It was begun in Paris after WWI in 1919. American Legion Post 419, 958 Homestead Rd., was chartered in 1932. Up and coming fund raisers are a Valentine’s Dinner Dance Feb. 11 and a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Dance March 17. Visit the website for information: www.alpost419ca.org or call (408) 244-3050.