Five-year-old Miranda Cantele helps her father, Mitch Cantele of RE/MAX Steamboat (not pictured), serve salad during the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Community Christmas Dinner on Tuesday at Holy Name Catholic Church.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Five-year-old Miranda Cantele helps her father, Mitch Cantele of RE/MAX Steamboat (not pictured), serve salad during the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Community Christmas Dinner on Tuesday at Holy Name Catholic Church.

Serving up holiday cheer

Hundreds attend annual Community Christmas Dinner

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Community Christmas Dinner

Hundreds of people turned out Christmas Day for the free Community Christmas Dinner, organized by the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors

Hundreds of people turned out Christmas Day for the free Community Christmas Dinner, organized by the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors

— For teenage sisters Maura and Meghan Hartley, Steamboat Springs' annual Community Christmas Dinner has long been a part of their family's holiday tradition. The girls have been volunteering to serve up cranberry sauce alongside their father, Realtor David Hartley, for as long as they can remember.

The annual, free Community Christmas Dinner, organized by the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, served up a hot holiday meal to about 400 people Tuesday at Holy Name Catholic Church, said Colleen de Jong, a broker with Prudential Steamboat Realty and co-chairwoman of the dinner's organizing committee.

Local musician Paul Potyen serenaded the crowd with Christmas classics including "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," while the young and old, families and friends, dined on Christmas dinner. A "Jingle Bells" sing-a-long drew children out of their seats to dance in the aisles, many sporting Christmas sweaters.

"It's just such a wonderful thing for the community," said longtime Steamboat resident Maxine Ohman, who enjoyed her Christmas dinner with a table full of friends.

More than 100 local volunteers cooked and brought in dishes for the dinner, which boasted a menu including holiday favorites such as turkey, ham, stuffing and sweet potatoes, and less-conventional choices such as seven-layer bean dip. Volunteers and a five-person carving team served up plates of steaming mashed potatoes and sliced meats until 5 p.m.

"We try to stay open for aprÃs ski, for all the people on the mountain and all the Ski Corp. employees," de Jong said.

Preparing for the annual feast was a bit different this time around than in years past, primarily because of the Community Christmas Dinner's change of venue.

Formerly held at the now-demolished Steamboat Springs Community Center, and with the new community center still under construction, organizers took on the task of finding a suitable location to accommodate the meal. They settled on Holy Name Catholic Church, which has a larger capacity than the dinner's former digs.

"We had an army of real estate brokers come in and set up," de Jong said.

A team of roughly 50 of Steamboat's real estate professionals, their families and other volunteers had to set up for the meal much faster than usual, de Jong said, so as not to interrupt the half-dozen Masses being celebrated by Holy Name Catholic Church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Christmas services, both in Steamboat and in Oak Creek, were filled to capacity, including a 700-seat mass at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort that was packed with holiday worshippers, said Steamboat Village Brokers Realtor Diane Franklin, whose husband is also a deacon at Holy Name Catholic Church.

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