The Coon Rapids VFW Auxiliary has been hosting a holiday dinner for Coon Rapids senior citizens for 30 years or more.
Neither VFW Auxiliary members Bernadette Staum nor Lila Rosenow could remember how many years it had been when the 2012 holiday dinner took place at the Coon Rapids VFW Post Sunday.
But Staum and Rosenow believe it is 35 years, they said.
According to Staum, the Coon Rapids Senior Center originally contacted the VFW Auxiliary about putting on the holiday event for Coon Rapids seniors citizens, age 55 and over, as well as members of the Coon Rapids Super Senior Club Inc. and it has become an annual tradition.
“We like it,” Staum said. “We are giving back to the community.”
Rosenow has also involved her daughters in volunteering to work at the dinner – Darlene Rosenow and Darla Tallman.
In the early years, there was no charge or reservations needed for the dinner and more than 300 seniors would show up.
Since $5 has been charged for seniors to cover some of the VFW Auxiliary’s expenses and reservations are required, the number of seniors attending has dropped to a more manageable 200.
This year’s dinner was scheduled to take place Dec. 9, but it was pushed back a week to Dec. 16 when the major snowstorm hit.
In fact, Kris Niebler, Coon Rapids Senior Services program specialist, and a group of volunteers contacted all seniors who had made reservations for the dinner to let them know that it had been called off because of the snowstorm.
“We lost about 10 people who had made reservations for last week and could not come Sunday,” Niebler said.
“But we picked up another 10 and had about 200 seniors at the dinner.”
“Besides receiving a delicious meal, this event gives the senior community a chance to sit down, visit with friends, enjoy some entertainment and be pampered by the auxiliary women. It’s a real treat.”
Before the meal, the seniors were entertained by Marcie Sparks, who played Christmas music at the keyboard for a sing-a-long and also told some jokes.
Then seniors sat down to a traditional turkey breast dinner, complete with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, cake and coffee.
Tami Meyers, Coon Rapids VFW Auxiliary member, has chaired the dinner for the past five years and is head cook.
She was joined by Staum Lila Rosenow, Nancy Egge, Darlene Rosenow and Darla Rosenow in the kitchen and in serving.
Meyers arrived at the VFW post at 8 a.m. Sunday morning to get the hall ready, she said.
The VFW Auxiliary crew did not leave until late afternoon following the clean-up, according to Meyers.
The turkey breast was cooked earlier in the week and then carved into slices, a long process that took several hours, before the slices were heated up Sunday to create seven trays of turkey breast for the dinner, according to Meyers.
Besides the entertainment and dinner, seniors were also eligible for door prizes of 20 $5 bills, the drawings taking place after the dinner was over.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org