The 15th annual Community Christmas Dinner went off without a hitch once again and was the largest ever recorded for the Town with 260 people in attendance.
The high attendance is thought to be due to the economic downturn said Sylvan Lake Community Partners administrative and events coordinator, Alanna Dextrase, adding there were also perhaps new members to the community who don’t have family nearby .
But with many new faces this year, new friends were made.
The evening was amazing, said Dextrase with people eating a spectacular dinner of turkey, ham, potatoes, salads, and dessert among the many other items that go along with the season.
Santa Clause even came around to wish everyone a merry Christmas and to give out gifts which included toques and pyjama bottoms.
“We had presents for all the kids and everybody,” Dextrase said.”It was awesome.”
Different from past year’s dinners- founders of the dinner John and Donna Ellerby weren’t in attendance due to personal reasons.
Dextrase said the Ellerby’s started the dinner 15 years ago out of their own pockets and held the first dinner at the Catholic church.
This is the first dinner to date that they were not in attendance.
Dextrase said that John would prepare the potatoes every year with Donna organizing the event.
“We had a couple of their family members but we usually have way more of their family,” Dextrase said. “It was really sad not having them in attendance.”
With the Ellerby’s not being there, volunteers had to put in a few extra hours to make it a success again this year.
There was even food left over which Dextrase took to Red Deer where there was probably another 50 people that were fed from the left over food, ensuring non of the donations went to waste.
Dextrase said she has seen the attendance grow so much in the past seven years she has been involved with it. She said there may have been around 100 people at the dinner when it was held at the seniors centre many years ago.
Dextrase describes the dinner atmosphere as being fun and energetic with attendees being very grateful.
People come up to Dextrase and her team to thank them for the dinner. This year was the best year they have ever had.
The entertainment was thoroughly enjoyed with entertainers such as Flashback Freddy.
“There were seniors up dancing,” Dextrase said. “A senior stopped me and said ‘it just gets better every year. We so enjoy it and we look forward to it’.”