Residents share holiday dinner

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— Many people in Steamboat Springs had a simple plan for the Christmas holiday: Ski or snowboard all day, then share in a communal meal that is a local tradition.

Tables at the Steamboat Springs Community Center were packed with people Sun--day afternoon and evening, as throngs of locals, tourists, children, seniors and families took part in the community holiday dinner presented by the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors. Ski jackets, hats and snowboard boots were common attire after a warm, clear day on the slopes.

"We expect to feed as many as 400 people today," said Board of Realtors member Lori Thompson, who organized the event.

Thompson said planning for the meal began in early November. The Steamboat Smoke--house cooked the many turkeys that board members and Realtors served, Thompson said. The Egg & I restaurant also pitched in, donating much of the food, including mashed potatoes and stuffing.

"The community has been very generous," said Thompson, who arrived at about 9:30 a.m. to start the ovens. She expected to be at the community center until about 8 p.m. Sunday.

City Council President Ken Brenner attended the event and said it was a good opportunity to assess needs for the city's new community center, for which the council is discussing plans.

"These are the types of activities the new community center should be designed to encourage," Brenner said.

The council will take attendance at the dinner and other community events into account when planning the new community center, Brenner said.

"It looks like we could probably use a little more size," he said.

Dinner attendees John and Roslyn Downs came from Australia to work for the ski season. It is their sixth winter in Steamboat. John Downs cooks at two restaurants, and Roslyn is a cashier. Both said they enjoyed the food and the festive atmosphere and that they appreciated the effort by the Realtors, board members and volunteers.

"When you work in a kitchen, sometimes you don't fancy cooking Christmas dinner," John Downs said as he dived into dessert.

Thompson said the variety of people at the dinner made for an enhanced sense of community.

"I think people really enjoy coming together to share a meal," she said.

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