Renowned across Santa Clarita for good food, fun rides, great music and a carnival atmosphere, parishioners are gearing up for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s 72nd annual barbecue next weekend. Despite the many fun attractions, those closest to the church say what makes the barbecue really special is the sense of community it fosters between churchgoers and community attendees. The OLPH annual 72nd Barbecue is a massive undertaking with nearly 20,000 attendees across the three days of the event. Nearly 800 volunteers from OLPH as well as other parishes, including Saint Clare’s and Saint Kateri, help put the event together. Imbred Parco has attended the church since 1995 and has been a volunteer at the event since 2008. She’s served as a booth captain for the barbecue, and began coordinating the food for the entire event. Despite the hard work and many volunteers it takes to keep the barbecue running, Parco said she believes the reason the event is so special is because it brings the community together. “Every year the whole community works together for one reason, to serve God,” said Parco. “It has lasted this long because we work together as a team. For me, I serve God by serving his people.” She also explained it offers something fun for both children and adults, while bringing community attendees closer together. For her, however, the best part is seeing the many volunteers work side by side. “You also can’t beat all the different homemade food, that’s probably why people come back every year, it’s just that good,” she said. Community building Proceeds from the barbecue event, which is much more a carnival atmosphere, benefit the church directly. It is the biggest parish fundraising event of the year. Nearly $100,000 was raised at last year’s event. “This is truly a neighborhood celebration,” said Deacon Kevin McCarthy. “When rides start showing up on Friday, there’s a little buzz around town.” Attractions include a Ferris wheel and other large carnival rides, as well as games where players can win prizes. Local dance teams perform, bands of all types play and sing and a variety of food is served, including homemade Mexican and Filipino food, popcorn, cotton candy, and the parish’s signature beef. The beef is slow cooked underground for several days. “We have such a diverse community, we have people from all over that come,” said McCarthy. “It’s a great time to come together in fun.” Yass Molerio attended last year for the first time with his wife and two sons. He said they enjoyed the event and plan to attend again this year. “Everyone has a great attitude and you get that small town feel and sense of community,” said Molerio. “The kids loved the big dipper ride, which to me looks like a torture device. It was really nice to see it so busy and the whole community attend and come together. It was a lot of fun.” “From a Christian perspective, the human family is our family in Christ,” said Cheri Whelan, volunteer coordinator for the event. “We just want to reach out to everyone, whether they are part of the Catholic church or not.” Whelan has volunteered at the barbecue since 2002 and began leading the large team of volunteers five years ago. She explained, despite the enormous amount of work it takes to put the event on, it is worth it to her because she loves both her church and community. “It is a really happy place to gather, to get to know people, to work together, and to play together,” Whelan said. “People all around know about it. It’s such a joy to see people happy and having a good time, and it’s building unity in our community.” The OLPH 72nd annual barbecue kicks off Friday, Sept. 16, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, September 17 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and runs through Sunday, September 18, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The church is located at 23045 Lyons Ave in Newhall.