PARKERSBURG - Communal Christmas Day dinners have been a tradition in the Mid-Ohio Valley for years and that practice continues this year.
With this year's holiday falling on Sunday, the community dinners have not been affected but some of the churches have rescheduled or changed their regular services for the day.
The First Presbyterian Church, at 1341 Juliana St. in Parkersburg, has been hosting a Christmas Day dinner in its fellowship hall annually and will be holding its 21st dinner this year.
A group of volunteers from Tri-City Baptist Church in south Parkersburg prepares plates of food for diners at the church’s annual Christmas community dinner in 2010.
The Rev. Michael Seely said the free dinner will be served from noon-2 p.m. on Christmas Day, which falls on Sunday this year, and will include salad, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, roll, beverage and dessert.
Seely said the church will open at 9 a.m. on Christmas Day and offer a hospitality room, with coffee and doughnuts, for people who don't have anywhere else to be that morning and want to come to the church early.
The dinner is not just for people in need, but also gets a lot of people who are alone and don't have anyone to share Christmas with, he said.
Volunteers at the church began planning for the dinner in October. Much of the food has been donated by local businesses, he said. The dinner will have 25-30 volunteers from First Presbyterian working, and those are usually joined by an equal number of volunteers from the community who stop by to help in various ways, Seely said.
The church is offering meal delivery within the Parkersburg-Vienna area by calling the church office at 304-422-5426 by Dec. 20.
Another Christmas Day dinner is planned at 1 p.m. at Coolville United Methodist Church in Coolville on Saturday.
This will be the fifth year for the Coolville event. The event was well received in its first year in 2007, with over 70 people served at the church or through carry-outs. Over 100 people are expected to come to the event this year, organizers said.
The dinner begins at 1 p.m. and there is no charge. The meal will include ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, rolls, dessert, coffee and tea.
A group of volunteers from the church and the community will help with the event, she said.
Since this year's dinner falls on Sunday, the usual Sunday morning service at 10:30 a.m. at Hockingport United Methodist Church is being joined with the 9 a.m. service at Coolville, said the Rev. Katherine Riley who serves both churches.
The following Sunday, on New Year's Day, a joint service will be at 10 a.m. at Hockingport.
Tri-City Baptist Church, on Grandview Street in south Parkersburg, is offering the community a free Christmas Day Dinner that will begin at noon on Dec. 25.
The regular Sunday church service preceding the dinner has been moved from 10:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. to better accommodate both programs.
In the past, a similar dinner was served to members of the church and delivered to homes where needed. Over the past six years, organizers have worked to bring diners to the church for music and fellowship in addition to the food.
Founded in 1978 and moved to its present location in 1987, Tri-City Baptist is not as accessible as it is visible. For those who have never been to the church, volunteers will tie red ribbons and balloons along the route from the intersection with West Virginia 95.
For more information or to make transportation arrangements, call the church at 304-428-0767 by Dec. 23.