The 2018 Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner, Dec. 25 at the Florence Filberg Centre, was one of the best attended in its 36-year history.
“There were easily over 250 people for dinner,” said co-ordinator Rob James as the event wound down. “We had to set up five extra tables and they filled up in no time at all.”
Volunteers were on hand since the morning of Dec. 24 to set up the hall and begin the cooking.
“We were here from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. yesterday, then back at 7 a.m. this morning, to get the ovens on and get things cooking,” said James. “Yesterday we had about 50 volunteers here to help with the set-up, putting out all the tables, chairs and all the decorating. Then there were another 20 or so doing all the peeling and that prep work in the kitchen.”
There were at least that many volunteers who showed up Christmas Day, to help cook, serve and clean up afterwards.
“There were a lot of people helping today,” said James. “But it looked like everyone was kept busy, so that was good.”
Including take-outs, more than 500 dinners were served.
Local grocery stores and bakeries provided the food, much of it donated.
“All the grocery stores and bakeries overwhelmed us again,” said James. “Then Costco surprised us with another truckload at about 10 o’clock last night; they brought over a whole bunch more desserts, fresh asparagus, and fresh-cut fruit with yogurt, which was a really nice addition.”
Volunteers started plating turkey dinners at noon, and everyone in attendance had a plate in front of them within 20 minutes.
There was even entertainment, courtesy of Luke Blu Guthrie, with accompaniment from Blair Bentley on drums and Shari Campbell on the flute.
It was the culmination of two months worth of preparation for James and his team.
“We start putting feelers out in early November, then the final two weeks before the event it really gets busy, with shopping and stuff.”
It was James’s 12th year co-ordinating the event, and he never tires of it.
“This is what Christmas is all about, for me,” he said.