Dowagiac Elks to host annual Breakfast with Santa event

Published 9:45 am Thursday, December 6, 2018

DOWAGIAC — Before Santa Claus rounds up his reindeer to travel the globe this Christmas Eve, he will be making a stop in Dowagiac to spend time with local children at a free event.

The Dowagiac Elks Lodge will host its annual Breakfast with Santa event from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Lodge, 300 Riverside Dr., Dowagiac. The event will feature a free pancake, sausage and egg breakfast, visits with Santa, Christmas cookie decorating, ornament and craft stations, and hot chocolate. The event is being sponsored by The Dowagiac Elks Lodge and the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce.

“This is a very informal event for kids to visit with Santa and have fun,” said event organizer Susie Gendron. “It’s something we look forward to every year. There will be lots of fun activities and crafts for the kids to do.”

Jolly St. Nick’s annual stop by the Elks Lodge is a longstanding tradition in the city of Dowagiac. The event was first organized by club members in the 1980s, and was resurrected by members of the Lodge around seven years ago, according to past interviews with the Dowagiac Daily News. Last year, the event hosted 80 children and 120 people, Gendron said.

“Every child should experience the magic of the season and the spirit of the season,” she said. “It’s also nostalgic for the parents to see Santa.”

Providing the Breakfast with the Santa event for local children fits in the Elks’ mission of giving back to the community as it provides a free way for families to celebrate the holidays, Gendron said.

“We are hoping to reach some kids that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity [to see Santa],” she said. “Some kids can’t leave the city or the township to go the mall or other places to see Santa. This is something local where parents can bring their families and not feel like they have to pay for everything.”

Though her days of believing in the man in the red suit are long over, Gendron can still remember the childhood magic of waiting for Santa to arrive at her grandmother’s Sister Lakes home. With those memories still close to her heart, Gendron said she hopes many families will attend the Breakfast with Santa event to help area children make similar memories and hold on to that Christmas magic for as long as possible.

“Today, kids grow up so fast that it’s nice to be able to provide this service where kids can just be kids and enjoy the magic of the season,” she said. “This won’t cost you a thing, so it’s easy to come up and be a part of it. Come enjoy a free meal with the kids and have a good time.”

Those interested in attending the event are asked to RSVP by Friday. To register, call (269) 782-3889 or emailing