According to co-organizer Sara Gallus, a total of about 1,029 meals were served, including 358 for delivery or carry-out and 671 to dine in.
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the banquet room at the Legion hall was often packed, with a line the length of the room waiting to be served turkey and ham, dressing and mashed potatoes, squash, corn, rolls, a variety of salads and pumpkin pie.
Volunteer Al Forseth, at right, serves a scoop of corn to David Hullinger during Wednesday’s community Christmas meal at the American Legion in Park Rapids.
“It’s wonderful,” said Carole Kapsner. “I’m single, so this is a wonderful way to spend today, with people, even who I don’t know. I met some neighbors.”
Also attending the meal was Debbie Eskola, who traveled from Spokane, Wash. to visit family for the holidays. “I love the community dinner,” she said. “It’s my first time. It’s been a good experience. Everybody’s friendly. The food is great.”
Linda Johnson and her son Derek Johnson attended the dinner in festive colors and Santa and reindeer hats.
“Everything really is good,” said Erna Kabel. “It’s a good day to be together.”
Kabel’s daughter, Judy Strange, said, “We had our holiday last weekend with our kids, and so we’re home with mom today, and we’re enjoying it. The food is great.”
Guests were also invited to take home free apples and oranges, and a freewill offering was taken.
Chris and Wyatt Bruce, from left, and their mom Nancy Gruchow share a table at the community Christmas dinner with Laurine Kommer, Toni Becker and three other ladies.
“It’s been going very well,” Gallus said about midway through the meal. “We’re very grateful for all of the volunteers that have come out.”
Gallus’ sister, Lorie Cannon, said their dad Dennis Anderson started the annual dinner many years ago. “He just always said, ‘If you want to spend Christmas with me, you’ve got to come here.’ So, that’s kind of what we’ve done.”
She added, “I love doing it. The amount of people that we get, and the satisfaction that you get of everybody coming and being together – it’s not just, like, the homeless people. Everybody in the community comes out.”
Volunteer Jerry Cook drizzles gravy on Marla Wolterstorff’s mashed potatoes at the end of the serving line. Volunteers at the community meal fed more than 1,000 people on Christmas Day.