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25th Christmas Day Dinner

PiesMCKENZIE BRIDGE: Once again, there will be no reason for anyone to eat alone this December 25th. At the annual Christmas Day Dinner, they can sit down with up to 250 of their neighbors who will have a holiday meal sponsored by the Blue McKenzie Lions Club.

The event originated over two decades ago when  Peg and Dean Osterbuhr realized there were some people who either had lost family members or  were new to the area. Because of that, they often ate alone. The solution was a free community meal that has been held at different locations before settling at the St. Benedict’s Lodge in McKenzie Bridge.

Originally, donated turkeys were taken home to be cooked by Lions Club members. As time passed, some restaurants, like the Log Cabin Inn, would cook and slice the birds. That process was streamlined a few years ago when Bill Leve made arrangements for Food For Lane County to  do the lion’s share of food preparation.

Behind the scenes, event organizer Joe Wagner works with a volunteer crew of 57 volunteers to make sure that beside turkey, diner will also feast on ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, desserts, and beverages. In addition, a dozen or so people who are home bound will have meals delivered.

Santa Claus is scheduled to make his annual visit to greet children with gifts and treats. Wagner said Toys For Tots supports the event as well, providing gifts for some families that might not be able to afford presents on their own.

Other entertainment will include performances by harpist Hilary Green, music by John Gray and an appearance by the McKenzie Bridge Christian Church Choir led by Katie Caulley.

Wagner said people start calling in October to make sure the dinner is still a go. One of the things they always check on, he adds, is whether Ivan and Audrey Denney will again be doing the desserts as they have for many years. (The answer is, “Yes.”)

Plan on attending? The doors at St. Benedict’s Lodge, 56630 North Bank Road in McKenzie Bridge, will open at 1:30 p.m. The dinner will be served at 2.

Image above: A table laden with desserts will be just part of the holiday meal people can indulge in at the annual Christmas Day Dinner.


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