Then the spaghetti and the plate were gone.
“I ate it all,” said Jonathan, 5, of Hagerstown.
Katie Stotelmyer, 33, said it took her son about five minutes to eat the spaghetti.
“He shoved it down. Pasta’s his favorite, and chicken legs,” she said.
The Antietam Exchange Club served 705 dinners during its 39th annual Italian Festa on Sunday, said Frit Hill, Festa chairman. Club members sold at least 900 tickets to the event, he said.
The first hour of the fundraiser, which started at noon, is typically the busiest, but traffic was slower that hour than usual, probably because of the cold weather, he said.
Last year’s event raised $4,300, Hill said. The club uses the proceeds to help a variety of local charities, including the Parent-Child Center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Mason-Dixon Council of Boy Scouts of America and Baby Basics, Hill said.
This was the third year the all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner was held at the Williamsport fire hall, where Leiters’ Fine Catering is based. The catering company spent a day preparing 70 gallons of meat sauce and 20 gallons of vegetable sauce, said Dave Leiter, who co-owns the catering business with his wife, Teri.
The event is as old as the Antietam Exchange Club, beginning in 1972 at the former Venice Inn on Dual Highway when charter member Don Diehl suggested the spaghetti fundraiser, Hill said.
After being at the Venice for at least 20 years, the meal was held at South Hagerstown High School until it was moved to the fire hall, said charter member Bob Fennel, 67, of Hagerstown.
Matthew Dick, 42, of Williamsport, said he’s been helping out probably since he was in elementary school. Dick said he thinks he was in middle school when he started helping Fennel cook the spaghetti.
Fennel scoops the noodles out of a huge cooking vat and into a large rectangular metal pan that Dick holds.
Fennel said they haven’t figured out how to avoid the steam coming off the noodles, but they have learned tips such as oiling the noodles after they are out of the pot to keep them from drying out before they are served.
For about 34 years, Bill Fox helped with the event, dipping sauce onto the spaghetti, the former Exchange Club member said. This was the second year he was on the receiving end of the spaghetti.
“It’s a lot better being on this end,” said Fox, 83, of Greencastle, Pa.
Kristi Glass, 38, of Smithsburg, was with a group of about 16 family members and friends. Glass, who works with Exchange Club member Dave Oswald at Smith, Elliott, Kearns & Co., said she enjoys the food and helping a great cause.
Spaghetti is her favorite food, said Glass, who likes lots of sauce and cheese on her spaghetti.
Dave Dorsey, 81, of Halfway, came with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, Bob Rankin, who bought the tickets.
“Every year I get a call from (Exchange Club member) Dennis Swope,” said Rankin, 62, of Hagerstown.
Rankin said he likes the spaghetti, but also wants to support the work the club does with local charities, such as the Parent-Child Center and Food Resources.
Greencastle resident Dana Divelbiss said her father bought the family tickets to the spaghetti dinner.
Her family members are big fans of spaghetti, which they eat about every two weeks, Divelbiss said.
“I like the sauce,” said Ellie Divelbiss, 7.
She also likes twirling the spaghetti on her fork, a popular technique used Sunday.
Jake Womer, executive editor of The Herald-Mail Co., is president of the Antietam Exchange Club.