Presque Isle Elks to host eighth annual Family Christmas Dinner

11 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The eighth annual Family Christmas Dinner, hosted by the Presque Isle Elks Lodge 1954, will be held at the lodge Christmas Day beginning at 11 a.m.
“An invitation is hereby issued by Presque Isle Elks Lodge 1954 to anyone who does not have family or friends with whom to share Christmas Day to join the Elks, their families and friends for Christmas dinner,” said Exalted Ruler Michael LaFrance.
The lodge is located at 508 Main St. in Presque Isle.

As in every previous year, the Elks will provide a special Christmas Day event — entirely free of charge — to all who attend. According to LaFrance, this event is not intended, however, “for the benefit of only the economically disadvantaged, but to everyone, irrespective of class, color, race or religious belief,” who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone and unable to share the joy of fellowship on Christmas Day.
The Elks’ Christmas dinner was born over eight years ago from an idea of perennial Elks’ Christmas Dinner co-chair Alan Harding. Harding had told the Elks Lodge members of his own experience as a child on the first Christmas after his mother and grandmother had died as the result of a tragic car accident. Harding’s father, who already had his hands full while trying to maintain a law practice and be the sole parent for four children ages 4 to 9, did his best to put up a Christmas tree and buy presents for the four children. The absence of the maternal influence, however, was evident throughout the Harding household. Missing were all the other Christmas decorations that the children’s mother had carefully placed about the house every year, but most of all the children missed the time with their mother and grandmother planning the Christmas event, helping to wrap presents, making decorations and joining in the Christmas cooking. Christmas Day that year simply seemed empty, as Harding’s father tried his best on his own to celebrate Christmas with his four young children.
“The Elks’ Christmas Dinner is intended to reduce, in part, the emptiness that comes from spending Christmas alone, whether as the result of a tragic death, as in Alan Harding’s life, or on account of the separation of families resulting from military commitments, legal difficulties, or economic necessity,” LaFrance said.
The Elks will open the doors to the public at 10:30 a.m. As in the past, local musicians, including Wendell Hudson, Peter Parker, Sheldon Wright, Leland Clark and other friends will entertain with joyous songs. Fireman Fred Parsons will lead some group sing-alongs.
The Elks will provide transportation for anyone who needs it. Luxury Limos of Caribou will provide limousine service for people needing a ride to the lodge. North Country Auto will also provide a van for people requiring transportation with easier access. Transportation for individuals in wheelchairs will also be available. Anyone needing transportation can call 764-0985 or send an e-mail request to pielks1954@maine.rr.com.
The following Christmas dinner menu has been posted by Elks Christmas Dinner co-chair Dana Dickinson — assorted hors d’oeuvres, a variety of juices, tossed green salad, Northeastland Hotel’s tomato bisque, Governor’s dinner rolls, other assorted breads, roast turkey with stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce, country-cooked ham with applesauce, county-grown mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots in buttersauce, fruit salad, select desserts from Governor’s and other homemade desserts and eggnog.
Mary Dickinson has been a co-chair of the Elks Family Christmas Dinner from its inception in 2005. She said over the seven prior Christmases, the Elks have served about 1,200 guests, who have consumed over 1,500 pounds of turkey, 300 pounds of ham, 150 dozen dinner rolls, and over a ton of vegetables.
The Elks plan to begin serving their traditional Christmas dinner to their seated guests at noon. Dozens of Elks have already volunteered to assist in the transportation, welcome and seating of guests, cooking, serving, and entertaining at the Christmas dinner. Anyone who wishes to assist the Elks on Christmas Day with the transportation, cooking, serving, and cleaning is invited to do so.
“To everyone who for whatever reason would be spending Christmas Day alone, whether as a single parent with young children, or an elderly couple without children, or simply a person all alone in this city, the Presque Isle Elks Lodge invites you to its Family Christmas Dinner,” said LaFrance.