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Fort Macleod Masons invite community to Christmas dinner

The Masonic Lodge is inviting several hundred friends for dinner on Saturday, Dec. 9.
The Masons are hosting the annual Community Christmas Dinner from 4-7 p.m. Saturday at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.
A free turkey dinner with all the trimmings is served to everyone, with crafts for children, musical entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus adding to the fun.
This is the fifth year the Masons will organize the dinner at the community hall, after taking it over from the staff at Synergy Land Services.
Bev and Henry Hagen pitched the idea of taking over as dinner hosts to the Masons.
Attendance has climbed each year from about 450 the first year, to 525 in 2014, 550 in 2015 and close to 600 last year.
The Hagens for years served a free Christmas dinner when they owned the Westerner Restaurant to ensure that people who might not otherwise have a festive meal would enjoy one.
The Masons embraced that philosophy, one that is shared by many people in Fort Macleod and district.
Although the Masonic Lodge takes the lead in organizing the dinner, it is a true community effort.
Businesses donate products and people volunteer their time to prepare and serve the meal, and to clean up afterward.
Staging a dinner for that many people is no small undertaking.
Henry and Bev Hagen and their kitchen volunteers will cook 11 turkeys, each weighing 28 to 30 pounds.
Two hundred pounds of potatoes are required, along with 75 pounds of vegetables and 40 dozen dinner buns.
Four big pails of ice cream topped with the contents of 10 five-pound containers of strawberries will be served for dessert.
While the turkey dinner is the focus of the evening, there are other activities — all co-ordinated by volunteers.
Children can get their faces painted, try their hand at crafts, or pose for photographs with Santa Claus, and there will be musical entertainment.
The Masons will accept donations of non-perishable food items and toys for the Salvation Army Christmas hamper program.
Volunteers are always needed to undertake tasks such as ushering people to tables, serving dinners and helping at the craft tables.
Donations of cash and food supplies are also welcome.
Volunteers are deployed in shifts, with the first batch working from 3:45-5:45 p.m. and the second one coming in from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
To volunteer or contribute to the dinner, contact Brian Reach at 403-634-2205, 403-553-4731 or reachbrian@shaw.ca; Dave Gregory at 403-553-3078 or gregorybd@telus.net; or Ken Hann at 403-308-0482 or 403-553-2470 or klhann@telus.net.

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