Volunteers decking halls for free Christmas Day dinner
No one goes hungry on Christmas Day.
That's the promise made by organizers of Portland's Potluck in the Park, and they've been keeping it for 25 years. And just like jolly old Saint Nick, the annual tradition will return again this year.
About 1,000 guests are expected to attend the open-to-all Christmas Dinner held at the Portland Art Museum's Fred and Suzanne Fields Ballroom, 1119 S.W. Park Ave., from noon to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 25.
"It's just worth it to see the joy on everybody's faces. It really is," says David Utzinger, who has helped to organize the meals since they began in 1994. "That's enough for me."
Offerings include turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, yams, salads, pies, desserts and more. Attendees can pose with Santa for a photo, which will be printed and given to guests as a keepsake. Guests can also make free phone calls to loved ones. Jazz musicians provide the live soundtrack.
Kennels and a tasty treat will be available for pets, and scarves, jackets and socks stuffed with toiletries by kids from Cathedral School will be on hand. The whole shebang takes about 400 volunteers to pull off.
"It's Portland's largest Christmas Dinner," says Utzinger. "We decorate the place up right and try to give everyone a real special day."
Major sponsors of the free event include the Hilton Hotel, DoubleTree Hotel, Peter Corvallis Productions, West Coast Event Productions, Classic Pianos, DeAngelo's Catering & Events and Peterson Idealease.
More info on Potluck in the Park:
The all-volunteer nonprofit Potluck in the Park offers a free meal every Sunday of the year in downtown Portland. Currently, meals are served underneath the Hawthorne Bridge during winter months, and at the North Park Blocks off Glisan Street during the summer.
The organization's 1,428th consecutive meal was served this Sunday, Dec. 23. For more information, click here.