Residents line up at fish markets to grab Christmas Eve dinner
Dinner during Christmas Eve for many Italian-Americans will include the Feast of the Seven Fishes, meaning fish markets across New Jersey were geared up.
Every year, the folks at Woolley's Fish Market and Restaurant in Howell Township say the line forms early, sometimes before the sun comes up.
The line started around 6 a.m., with the first person showing up just before 6 a.m.. But it's nothing compared to previous years, where the line had been much longer much earlier.
"We get up at 6 a.m., so we leave by 6:30 a.m. because we don't want to be the last person in line that wraps around the parking lot," says Nancy Bradley, of Jackson.
Some people in line said it's a Christmas Eve tradition they were not willing to part with in this unprecedented year.
"Can't not have shrimp on Christmas Eve," says Dan Bradley, of Jackson. "It's become a tradition for 30 years of marriage, but it has to be Cajun style, not New England style."
Shrimp and scallops are some of the most popular items on people's lists.
Many fish markets will be busy on Christmas Eve, a shot in the arm many of them need during what has been a hard year for small businesses with the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner John Woolley says he's thankful for the business, after a tough year for his restaurant side of the business.
"We really appreciate customers like that, the diehards and many times we find its generation after generation who grew up in North Jersey and came down here with their relatives and family to shop and they've just followed right through and now the kids are learning it," says Woolley.
Customers say they will have a much smaller celebration this year due to the pandemic, but they still want to make sure it feels like Christmas Eve with their seafood traditions.