Olive Hannah and her daughter Joan enjoy a turkey dinner at First United Church on Christmas Day.

Olive Hannah and her daughter Joan enjoy a turkey dinner at First United Church on Christmas Day.

Comfort food and good company

Volunteers at First United Church prepared a holiday feast on Christmas Day for more than 200 people.

One of White Rock’s strongest holiday traditions is entering its third decade following the annual Community Christmas Day Dinner at First United Church on Dec. 25.

In the early 1980s the late George Bryant, long-time gardener and parks keeper for the city –  and other local movers and shakers – decided that no matter what the individual circumstances, there was no reason for any one to be alone or lonely on Christmas Day, particularly in a community as comfortable and rich in spirit as White Rock.

Now, each year, the volunteer-organized, volunteer run free event provides a dose of Christmas good fellowship for participants and servers alike, with help from generous individual sponsors and service organizations.

Co-organizer and co-founder Chip Barrett said this year’s event measured up in all regards, with Chef Leslie Maudsley dishing up a total of 262 turkey dinners with all the trimmings to dinner guests and volunteer servers and facilitators.

“We set tables for 196, but she ended up serving 209 guests – I don’t know how that worked out,” Barrett said. “It was a wonderful dinner, as always.”

Once again fulfilling the role of Santa he inherited from Bryant was MLA Gordon Hogg. “Gordon was right on form, as usual, although he was a somewhat skinnier Santa this year,” Barrett added.

Also adding to the good cheer were poinsettias and goodie bags, photos with Santa, music by pianist Christine Dibble, traditional singalongs, the White Rock Youth Ambassadors, and Rev. Joan McMurtry’s retelling of the Christmas story.

“With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, there was a also a 10:30 a.m. service, so parking was a little tricky, but it all worked out well,” Barrett said.

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