Elks to host annual children’s breakfast event Saturday

DOWAGIAC — Before he crisscrosses the globe on his annual gift-giving flight, Kris Kringle will be making a special jaunt down from the North Pole to The Grand Old City to visit with all the good boys and girls this weekend.

The Dowagiac Elks Lodge will host its annual “Breakfast with Santa” event from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at its clubhouse, at 300 Riverside Drive. Children 12 years and younger, as well as their parents, are invited to enjoy a free pancake and sausage breakfast served by Elks members, followed by several activities before the big man in red himself arrives at 9:30 a.m.

Children will have a chance to create crafts such as paper Christmas tree ornaments, decorate holiday cookies and write letters to Santa during the morning. At 9:15 a.m., David Krueger, exalted ruler with the club, will read the story “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Once Santa arrives at the club, children will have a chance to tell him what they want for Christmas and to have their photo taken with him.

Breakfast will be cooked and served by Elks volunteers, who will also handle cleanup duties. Every child in attendance will receive a free coloring book and crayons, plus whatever crafts they make.

All the Yuletide fun will be offered for free to visitors, said Susie Gendron, organizer of this year’s breakfast and a member of the Dowagiac service organization.

“One of our slogans is ‘Elks Care, Elks Share,’” Gendron said. “This is just one way for us to give back to the community.”

The Dowagiac Elks has hosted the Christmas-time event for more than a decade, though it was only offered to members’ families until the club opened the event up to the public three years ago.

Gendron expects between 150 to 200 people to attend Saturday’s event.

While this is Gendron’s first year at the helm of the breakfast, she has volunteered at the event in the past, she said. For her, the best part of the event is getting a chance to see the Christmas spirit come alive in the eyes of children.

“Adults typically only see the financial strain and stress of the holidays,” she said. “However, children only see the happiness and joy of the moment. It’s wonderful to witness.”

For reservations, people may call the Dowagiac Elks Lodge at (269) 782-3889 or the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce at (269) 782-8212.

“We hope that a lot of people show up, so children can spend some time with Santa and families can spend some time together,” Gendron said.

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