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Cloquet celebrates with communal Christmas dinner


December 27, 2019

Jana Peterson

Volunteers dish up plates heaped with ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and more Wednesday at Zion Lutheran Church in Cloquet. Between deliveries and sit down meals, they served close to 650 free Christmas Day meals. Food and cash (and volunteer T-shirts) were donated by area businesses and individuals to make the 26th annual meal happen.

Santa's helpers were busy in Cloquet Wednesday, serving Christmas dinner to hundreds of community members who either came to Zion Lutheran Church to enjoy the communal Christmas dinner or enjoyed ham, meatballs, potatoes and gravy, vegetables, rolls and more delivered straight to their doors.

Jana Peterson

Ray Hattinen wore his Sami hat, which is the favored headgear for reindeer herders. He purchased on a visit to Finland. He didn't know if Santa's reindeer herders also wear the same type of headgear. He did now that herders often keep their sandwiches inside a compartment in the top of the hat so they don't freeze.

Because they had such a great volunteer turnout this year, anyone who came was served a sit-down meal after they helped themselves to various appetizers, said Vivi Johnson.

The Johnson family is a driving force behind the annual Christmas meal, which celebrated 26 years this week. Patriarch Dave Johnson has been involved in the meal for over two decades.

Thanks to donations from area businesses and individuals, the all-volunteer crew served close to 650 meals total. Diners also displayed their Christmas spirit Wednesday. Santa and Mrs. Claus were there. Men and women wore numerous Christmas sweaters and other holiday garb, and the mood was festive. Joanne Lehrke sported a towering tinsel tree hat, and Ray Hattinen wore his Sami hat, the favored headwear of reindeer herders, who keep their lunch warm in the top part of the hat, while they take care of Prancer and Vixen and all the rest of Santa's reindeer.

Photos and text by Jana Peterson / Pine Knot News


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