BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Tradition lived on once again at the Slavonian Lodge in east Biloxi during the overnight and early morning hours of Tuesday. Dozens of members of the ladies auxiliary from the Slavic Benevolent Association spent hours cooking up holiday treats called pusharatas. 17,000 in all.
The pastries with European origins are quite the holiday hit in east Biloxi, and beyond.
All the auxiliary members have specific jobs on the assembly line of sweetness.
"My job is dipping and frosting," Kristi Currie explained. "When they cool down, they come over here and then we put them in front of a fan to dry."
The pusharatas have to be perfect, and there's only one way to judge that. Letha Cruthirds has to take a taste.
"Of course and they are delicious," Cruthirds said.
And it's not just the ladies involved in process.
"I just started helping this year," Ken Taliancich said. "I've been in the lodge about 15 years, but I usually just cook."
So what's in the pusharatas? Claude Sicuro has been mixing them up for years.
"Well, they got a lot of fruit in it. They got flour, they got sugar. It's just some pecans. They're just a whole bunch of things that go in them," Sicuro explained.
The sales of the sweet treats help worthy causes.
"We give scholarships to our members children. We give donations to charities locally and nationally," Ladies Auxiliary President Faye Misko said proudly.
For the Slavic community, keeping tradition alive is very important. And oddly enough, what Hurricane Katrina took away, she also gave back.
"I think Katrina helped bring the community together, really. We have a lot of new, young members now than we've ever had and they wanted after Katrina to hold on to their heritage," Misko said.
Heritage and mouth watering deliciousness, all wrapped up into one.
Almost all of the pusharatas will be picked up or delivered by the end of the day on Christmas Eve.