Holiday a feast of smiles at Tri-Area Community Center

CHIMACUM — It was the perfect Christmas for Bud and Pat Peterson.

They woke up at about 5 a.m., opened a few presents and then went to the Tri-Area Community Center and helped feed more than 300 people.

Bud joked about why they did what they do every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We’re both just 74 years old and someone has to come out and serve the old folks in the community,” he said, laughing aloud.

On Friday, he was smiling as wide as the last few people who came in for the public feast as it wound down at about 3 p.m.

“It’s been a pretty good day,” he said. “Actually, it’s been the perfect day.

“We got exactly what we wanted for Christmas — a whole lot of smiles.”

‘Absolutely worth it’

His wife said they would call family members when they got home Christmas evening, possibly around 6 p.m., some 12 hours after they started the day.

“Absolutely worth it,” she said.

The feast fell a few dozen short of the 350-person mark set at the community meal on Thanksgiving this year.

“We thought it was going to be a few more,” said Bob Goldberg, one of 60 volunteers at the annual Christmas dinner.

“But it was just above 300 people we fed today. That’s right close enough to what we expected.”

More people is the only change that could have improved the day for the volunteers.

“We like it when it goes a little faster, even,” said Stephanie Moran, who served ham during the final shift of the day.

Volunteer John Liczwingo said, “We like to stay busy, and would have loved a few more people through the line.”

But with that single small wish not being answered came a bigger gift: a full community.

“Everyone was fed,” Bud Peterson said.

“And now we get ready to do it again next year.”

________

Reporter Erik Hidle can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at erik.hidle@peninsuladailynews.com.

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