Christmas spirits high at Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner

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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - One of Central Maine's most popular holiday traditions was once again a success Wednesday.

The 13th Annual Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner brought out about 1,000 folks to the Waterville Elks Lodge.

"It all started with a wonderful prayer," said attendee Jennie Patterson. "And we have the music playing, we have Santa Claus by the Christmas Tree. How can you not feel joyous? Instead of being home and feeling sad, just make yourself step out of your box sometimes and go and do something you've never done before."

It's powered by about 150 volunteers, including people who have been here since the start like Julie Rowe.

"We volunteered one year and we took a two-hour slot, but we loved it so much that we took a four-hour slot, because this makes our Christmas," said Rowe.

Rowe says that she loves to be able to spread love and joy on Christmas.

"It's family," said Rowe. "All these people that work here, we might know each other a little bit, but it becomes family when we start doing it."

Everyone gets a traditional Christmas turkey dinner, and there are books and gifts for the kids, and of course Santa Claus.

"A full heart, hands full of gifts," said attendee George Stanley. "You give something, you take something. It's an old New England tradition back to the colonial times, so we continue it into this century. Nobody has to have a cellphone here. Nobody has to be digitally connected. This is the social medium of the day."