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Enjoy a communal Christmas dinner

Food — check.

Volunteers — check.

Santa Claus — check.

It’s time for the 23rd annual Cloquet Area Community Christmas Day Dinner.

The dinner is free and open to the public starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Christmas Day, at Zion Lutheran Church, 1000 Washington Ave., Cloquet.

“Santa comes at 2 p.m. and we ordered beautiful weather, no snow until after dinner,” said Dave Johnson, longtime organizer of the annual event.

Between dinners enjoyed in the church social hall, take-out and delivery, Johnson said they expect to serve between 400 and 500 people.

“It all depends on the weather really,” he said.

The menu is loaded with locally made dishes, from roast ham to B&B meatballs, pies by SuperOne and Perkin’s, cake from The Exchange in Duluth, meat and cheese trays, veggies, fruit and even shrimp.

There will be entertainment at the dinner, along with door prizes (including a beautiful handmade quilt from the Zion quilters), olive oil from Palestine, apple pandowdy and a Pine Journal subscription, plus fruit and candy bags for 200-plus guests. Johnson said Tuesday that 38 different businesses and organizations had donated already, and he expected a few more before Sunday.

Zion is the host, he said, “but the sponsor is the community.”

Johnson said they have more than 40 volunteers signed up for the event, but there’s always room for more.

“We normally have more than we need, but that’s OK,” he said. “If you can’t find something to do then you can have coffee and talk. It’s a sharing time.”

Call the Zion church office at 218-879-4647 to volunteer, order delivery or with questions.