AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The crowd started lining up outside of Lariccia’s Market in Boardman 45 minutes early Friday morning. Some even brought lawn chairs as they sat on the sidewalk. Most knew exactly what they were after.

“A lot of the restaurants are closed today, a lot of the orders have been taken so just waiting in line to get some fish for my family,” said North Lima resident Joanie.

A holiday tradition happening Friday may well rival ‘Black Friday’.

There was a morning crowd when the doors first opened at the Rulli Brothers in Austintown.

Many, like Ed Barker made a beeline to the back of the store looking for fried smelts for tonight’s Christmas Eve dinner.

“It’s been like 25 years, just my son and I. We’re here at 9 a.m.,” Barker said. “This is part of the tradition and we’re teaching the grandson now and this is his first year with us.”

Even before the doors opened, the crew was at Rulli’s at 5 a.m. preparing and frying up the fish the customers crave. Owner Michael Rulli said a lot were buying items for the seven fishes tradition. Some, though, serve 13 different kinds of seafood.

“You could get pretty exotic, either with the skate fish or the cuddle fish, and you can get into the sardines and the octopus and the eel if you really wanted to get, you know, over the top with it,” Michael Rulli said. “But most of the people wanna do an ‘American version’ where they come in and they get the smelts, or the get the haddock, and they’re good to go.”

Workers said things will start to wind down this afternoon as everyone goes home to cook.

Micahel Rulli said their stores do more business during Christmas week than through all of January.

For some, that tradition means looking out for others.

“I’m out of ricott, I’m making lasagna and I’m making an extra tray because I have some sick friends that can’t cook and I’m going to make sue I have enough to pass around,” said Rosemarie Carson.