Santa stops for dinner

December 27, 2002 12:00 am

By GENEVIEVE

BOOKWALTER

More than 140 turkeys and the same number of pies were gobbled up by some 1,300 people Tuesday, and even Santa stopped in to take last requests before the upcoming night's journey.

It was all part of the 21st annual Christmas Eve Community Dinner, held this year at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora.

A couple of hundred volunteers served turkey, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy and pie to guests who arrived between noon and 6 p.m.

Santa and his elves helped lighten the night's load by giving a gift to any child — from newborn to 18 — who wanted one.

And for those who couldn't get out of their house to attend, a volunteer drove Christmas dinner right to their doors.

More than 1,000 toys were donated for the event, chairwoman Cathie Peacock said, most from motorcycle clubs who collected them during a toy run the weekend after Thanksgiving.

All the food was donated. Community members baked homemade pies and Diestel's Turkey Ranch cooked and donated most of the turkeys.

When people ask Peacock what she is doing for Christmas, she's ready.

"Oh, we're having about 1,500 people for dinner," she answers.

In the dining room, the hungry guests were ready to eat.

As they waited to be served, Kimberly and Peter Scialabba of Sonora said bringing their three children — Tristan, 7, David, 9, and Tirza, 11 — to the dinner is a holiday tradition.

"We came to be part of the community, and for the kids to see Santa," Kimberly said, as David played with a Spiderman doll.

Meanwhile, Colton Baskett, a Columbia-area 8 year-old, donned a red and green jester suit to moonlight as one of St. Nick's elves for the day.

He paused during his six hours of passing presents for Santa to say that his favorite part of playing elf was, "just being nice."

However, a cowboy-boot-sporting Santa said he wouldn't be there for more than a couple hours.