National Bakery dishes out thousands of Paczkis on Fat Tuesday

MILWAUKEE -- It's a day of decadence and indulgence as people from all around the country are getting their gluttonous fill before the Lenten season begins.

It was no different in Milwaukee as hundreds of people were at National Bakery to get their paczki. 

"It's a fun day for us and our customers," Jeff Callen, co-owner at National Bakery said. 

Fun is an understatement. At 3:30 a.m., a small handful of people were outside of the bakery waiting for the doors to open so they could get their succulent sweets. 

"Why not? It's Fat Tuesday," Kenny Lovas said. "It's a tradition and what better way to start your day than go get paczki."

Lovas says he's been going to National Bakery for nearly 30 years to get the perfect pastries. However, they're rarely for him. 

"When I take them home, I take them to the neighbor ladies who can't get out or the people at church who can't get out," Lovas said. "The smile on their face is rewarding right there."

The ear-to-ear grins were contagious inside the bakery, even for the employees. Some had been working round the clock for the last day, cranking out confections for customers. 

They say they'll sell some 44,000 paczki in one day alone. It's a lot of work, but they enjoy helping families create memories.

"It's the one day of the year that everyone from the community seems to come over here and people look forward to it," Callen said. "Some people that come back here are bringing kids and grandkids. As you talk to more and more customers, they will tell you they've been coming here forever."

Young and old, they look forward to the tasty treats. They even get up hours before going to school.

"Sitting out in the cold is not that fun," Mackenzie Ryback said. "But coming in here, getting donuts for my family is fun."

With Lent on the horizon, Fat Tuesday is a fun chance for some folks to indulge in things they may be giving up for the next 40 days. With the dozens of paczki they purchased, that decision may be easier than before. 

"I'm probably going to be giving up the paczki when I finish them off," Carl Koeling said. 

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