Dowagiac Elks Lodge hosts Breakfast with Santa event

DOWAGIAC — Saturday morning, 5-year-old Nevin Bennett, of Dowagiac, stood in front of his father, Kenny, as he waited in line for a chance to meet Jolly Old St. Nick. Bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement, Nevin attempted to see around the line of people, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in red himself.

“He’s a little excited,” Kenny Bennett said with a laugh. “We are here to have some breakfast with Santa Claus, which is really fun.”

The Dowagiac Elks Lodge hosted is annual Breakfast with Santa event Saturday morning. For the event, the Elks provided attendants with free breakfast and allowed local children to meet and take photos with Santa Claus. With 150 reservations and even more families in attendance at the event, organizers called the event a success and the largest Breakfast with Santa in recent record.

“I think this is great,” said organizer Susie Gendron. “It’s great to know that kids are getting into the Christmas spirit with their parents.”

“We have a lot of new faces here this year,” added Lynne Lawrence, exalted ruler of the Dowagiac Elks Lodge. “I think it is great that we can stay here in the community and offer opportunities for kids that maybe can’t get out of the community.”

For families like the Bennetts, the event offered a chance to get out of the house and celebrate Christmas affordably and locally.

“I think this is great,” Kenny Bennett said. “There’s not much in town that is good for kids anymore, and it makes me sad now that I have a growing family that we have to go so far to do things, as opposed to going down the street in our own town. So, this is definitely refreshing.”

Megan Johnson, who helped revive the Breakfast with Santa program seven years ago, was in attendance of the event with her children Saturday. She said that, as a former organizer, she was glad to see the program grow to the point where it is now. As a mother, she was thankful for the opportunity to bring her children to a fun, local event.

“We did this when I was little. My parents were always members of the Elks, so I have all these pictures of us doing this,” she said. “It is so great to bring that tradition back and now share it. … This is great to provide for our community.”

Gendron said she was glad to hear that families were enjoying the event, adding that it is in the Elks’ creed to give back to the community though event such as Breakfast with Santa. Gendron also said she wanted to thank all volunteers that made the event possible.

“Elks care, Elks share,” Gendron said. “It is great to see the community support this. This is great for the kids.”

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