For 55th year running, annual holiday dinner held for seniors
BY NATE SMELLE
For the past 55 years, the Fonthill and District Kinsmen Club have come together just before Christmas to host their annual Senior Christmas Party. Last Tuesday, the Kinsmen carried on the tradition, packing in more than 100 local seniors into the Old Pelham Town Hall to celebrate the season. The crowd enjoyed a free Christmas dinner provided by the Kinsmen and live entertainment by Lindsey Mills and the Jingle Bell Rockers. Guests also had a chance to take home a poinsettia floral arrangement from Slappendel Greenhouses in Fenwick, door prizes and even had a chance to visit with Santa Claus himself.
Chair of the Seniors Christmas Party committee, Len Doyle, acted as the master of ceremonies for most of the night, spicing-up the evening with a few of his Christmas-themed jokes and stories from previous dinners. Having joined the Kinsmen 35 years ago, he has seen firsthand how the event lifts people’s spirits and brings the community together. He says the popular event is always a pleasure to host because it is a unique opportunity to gather with old friends and make a few new ones.
“We really like to put this on because people really enjoy it,” Doyle said.
“Many of the people here carpooled with their neighbours or people living in the same apartment building. Some of them even meet up beforehand just so they can sit together and share a nice meal. There are a lot of friendships made here every year.”
With some of the diners showing up before 5 PM to make sure they had a seat at the table, the Kinsmen had their hands full before, during and after the event to ensure it was another success. Doyle said the dinner is a nice way for the Kinsmen to honour many of the elders from the community who have helped to make the Town what it is today. Kin public relations officer Kevin Twomey said it is also shows people how they can help to make the community a better place by supporting service clubs like the Kinsmen and Kinettes.
“We support many other groups such as the Special Olympics, Pathstone, Women’s Place, but ultimately the money comes from the community,” said Twomey.
“With us being the stewards, we hold fundraisers and then we put that money back into the community where we see the greatest need. Whether they supported the poinsettia drop-off or the Fall Craft Show, when people look at the impact our fundraisers have they can see for themselves that their money went to a good place.”
Teacher, musician, songwriter and Fonthill resident, Lindsey Mills, and the Jingle Bell Rockers highlighted the festivities with an upbeat set list of Christmas classics such as Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and a variety of other holiday favourites. Playing more than a dozen instruments, Mills’s music has been featured on CBC radio. Her first year performing at the historic community gathering, Mills said she was asked to perform by a few of the Club’s members following a set at a restaurant in town.
“I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be here when it started 55 years ago,” she said.
“I was honoured when they asked me to play at the event. It is great to have three of my students here performing with me as well. They were so excited to be able to perform tonight.”
After the Christmas season wraps up, Twomey said the Kinsmen will begin their search for Pelham’s outstanding Citizen of 2016. The Citizen of the Year must live or work in Pelham, and exemplify volunteerism and positive community activism, and cannot be a sitting politician. The club is accepting submissions for the award until Friday Jan. 27, 2017. They must in writing and be addressed to The Kinsmen club of Fonthill and District, Box # 906 Fonthill, ON L0S 1E0.
[In photo] From left, Peyton Fox, Emelia Bennett and Luke Harker of the Jingle Bell Rockers entertain an audience of some 100 seniors at Old Town Hall last Tuesday evening. NATE SMELLE PHOTO