Delhi Christmas banquet called off

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Delhi United Church has thought better of staging its annual Christmas Day community banquet now that the second wave of COVID-19 is taking an increasing toll on the community.

Church officials shared the announcement on Dec. 2.

“We’ve decided to let it go this year,” convener Kim Morris-Morgan said at the church. “We’re postponing it.

“Maybe we’ll do something for Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. But we’ve decided it’s too risky for our volunteers. Many of them are older.”

The free community Christmas banquet in Port Dover was cancelled in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the event has filled the Lions Community Centre on St. George Street. Gatherings this large will be forbidden in the local health district until the coronavirus is brought to heel.

At the time of the Port Dover announcement, organizers of the banquet in Delhi thought they might stage an event with curbside pickup for all who wanted a traditional turkey dinner.

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Plans were to spread volunteers throughout the church in the preparation of food. Even then, Pastor Wendy Lowden deemed the exercise too risky.

“We were worried about government regulations,” Lowden said. “We were worried about getting our food in and ready and then having to cancel. It was a tough decision. We talked about it for a long time.

“The reaction has been better than we feared. It does have that emotional tie.”

The emotional tie involves Cheryl Fitch, the late pastor of Delhi United Church who started the banquet in 2004. Fitch was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on the eve of the 2016 banquet. She died soon after in January 2017. Congregants continue to mourn the loss.

Lowden and Morris-Morgan are content the church has made the right decision. They have nothing but preparation time sunk into this year’s event and have accepted nothing from the community that will go to waste.

“We want the community to know we are here for them and that we care,” Morris-Morgan said. “But we are limited in what we can do at the moment by government regulation.”