Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)

After 40 years as an annual Peninsula tradition, the popular Community Christmas Day Dinner has been placed on hold for 2020.

Organizer Brian Hagerman told Peace Arch News “it’s just not possible, in the new reality of COVID-19 to put the dinner on this year.”

He said that limitations on gatherings have precluded organizing an event that usually drew more than 200 participants and involved more than 60 volunteers from the community.

Held for many years at the now-demolished First United Church in White Rock, the free event – which emphasizes neighbourly socializing and carol singing as well as the volunteer-prepared-and-funded turkey feast – moved to White Rock Baptist Church in South Surrey in 2017.

READ MORE: Reservations now open for annual Community Christmas Day Dinner

Originally organized by White Rock city gardener George Bryant, Rev. Howard Filsinger and other community-minded volunteers – including architect Chip Barrett – the event was designed to make sure there was Christmas cheer for those who might otherwise feel “alone or lonely” on the holiday.

It has since been embraced by a wide range of residents who enjoy sharing the spirit of the season with others, with White Rock Youth Ambassadors acting as welcomers and servers, live music and a visit from Santa Claus as part of the treat.

“It’s very disappointing, but it’s the only conclusion we could reach this year,” Hagerman said. “We don’t want to put our participants or our volunteers at risk.”

But Hagerman vowed the event will return as soon as the danger of the current pandemic has passed.

“We will be back just as soon as we can safely do it,” he said.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

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