By Kate Blake

My husband and I have lived in the Cleveland area since late 2015, and in Parma since 2019. I have always worked on Mardi Gras, or better known as “Paczki Day” in the Parma area, but it continually seemed like an exciting, festive day. 

I heard about Rudy’s Strudel’s 75th Birthday and Paczki Day on Facebook and decided this was my year. I was definitely going to participate. I got my Rudy’s red paczki t-shirt the weekend before, so I was ready. I even took the day off from work and convinced my husband to wake up early with me to head to Rudy’s. 

We got to Rudy’s around 7:20 a.m., and there was already a long line formed (the event started bright and early at 5 a.m. with people even lining up as early as 3 a.m.!) It was a really entertaining atmosphere with polka vinyl spinning from The Current Year Records in the background and occasional shout outs from Rudy’s. Seeing so many people come together to support a local business gave me such a positive feeling of belonging and being part of an annual tradition. 

To help pass the time in line, there was birthday cake and mimosas, cornhole games, and filling out paczki order forms, with the paczki count getting higher as you got closer to the front of the line.

Several area businesses came out to help celebrate. Das Schnitzel Haus and Schnitz Ale Brewery were there setting up to offer delicious food and a special Rudy’s Paczki Currant Ale made especially for their 75th year anniversary. I bought a pack of 4 beers take home. Tiki’s Underground arrived and was mixing up a special Rudy’s cocktail called the French 75. If you wanted something hot to drink, you could head over to the Love Coffee – Barista Bus or if you prefer tea, the 75th Anniversary Rudy’s Champagne Blend from the Tea Lab was available to purchase. You could also pick up more treats and fun items from Joey’s Rockin’ Poppin’ Popcorn and Prama Artspace. 

It was so exciting as we got closer to the door, and the celebratory feeling absolutely kicked up once you went inside. You could sign Rudy’s birthday card if you hadn’t had a chance yet. Yellow, white, blue, and red balloons, decorations, and streamers hung everywhere from the ceiling which made it feel so joyful and fun. The polka vinyl continued to spin, and even though the line was still another 45 minutes once you were in the door, now you could see the paczki so you knew you were close! 

When it was our turn, we ordered a mix of sweet and savory, and watched all the workers busily filling paczki boxes. It was such a well-organized process! I made sure to get my beer from Schnitz Ale Brewery before we left, and I’m enjoying it now as I write this, along with my delicious blueberry and egg & bacon paczki. We were in line for about 2.5 hours, but this was such a great tradition, and I would encourage anyone to check it out in the future! Definitely plan ahead, dress for the weather, arrive early, or take the day off to enjoy Paczki Day, like me. 

I’m so happy I got to help Rudy’s celebrate their 75th birthday and enjoy my first official Paczki Day in Cleveland. You could easily see how much the Parma community loves Rudy’s, and it was awesome to be part of this special Cleveland tradition. I will definitely be back in future years!