Delhi banquet goes with curb-side pickup

Pastor Wendy Lowden and helper Andy Fitch of Delhi shop for items last year for the annual community Christmas banquet at Delhi United Church. Lowden aid the church's banquet is a go this year with a curb-side pickup format. Monte Sonnenberg/Postmedia Network

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Delhi United Church is bracing for increased traffic Dec. 25 now that the organizers of the annual Christmas banquet in Port Dover have pulled the plug on their event.

At this point, the community banquet in Delhi is still on. But the format will involve free curbside pickup for anyone who wants a traditional festive dinner on Christmas Day.

Blaming the cancellation on the “COVID Scrooge,” the Community Christmas Luncheon Volunteer Committee in Port Dover says the decision arose from “safety concerns for all volunteers and attendees, COVID restrictions on size of gatherings, and the need for social distancing.”

In a news release, the Port Dover committee says the vote to postpone was unanimous and that organizers would try again in 2021.

A total of 230 attended the 2019 banquet at the Port Dover Lions Community Centre on St. George Street. Among the volunteers in recent years has been former Port Dover Coun. John Wells.

“My first thought is we’re going to miss the togetherness of the day,” Wells said. “It’s a time when we get together and sing, enjoy each others company, and, of course, pass along the Christmas spirit.

“You get to see people you haven’t seen all year. I’m sure everyone will miss not being around other people, laughing and singing, and just having a good time.”

Organizers of the Delhi event will budget for people who would have attended in Port Dover coming to the United Church instead. On Friday, Pastor Wendy Lowden said the organizing committee always over-estimates how much food it will need to avoid disappointment.

“We are planning now for pick-up and eat-out dinners,” Lowden said. “They won’t have the camaraderie but they will get the family dinner. We believe we can do that reasonably safely.”

To that end, Delhi United Church will continue relying on donations. Turkeys and hams can be donated anytime because they will keep in the freezer. Donations of potatoes and vegetables would be appreciated in the days before the food is prepared.

“We always have extra,” the pastor said. “You never know what’s coming. We had enough for 50 extra people last year. We expect to go up. The demand at the food bank is really high right now. It’s really troubling.

“It’s hard to believe that – when we were planning a year ago – we hadn’t ever heard of COVID-19.”

For more information on supporting the banquet, email the Delhi church at revdeb.unitedchurch@gmail.com or call the church at 519-582-0380. Those interested in learning more can also dial Lowden at 519-754-7550

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