A Local Holiday Tradition

For many Naperville residents, Christmas is a time for family and tradition. Those who had no relatives close this holiday season found comfort in one another during an afternoon of cheer and laughter.

At the Chicago Marriot Naperville hotel, nearly 150 local seniors sang Christmas carols, ate Christmas dinner, and got to know good ole’ St. Nick.

Naperville resident, Bob Ezkersberg joins the crowd every year. “Mankind seems to put away all of its troubles and all of his animosities for one day at least. It’s too bad we can’t carry it on for 365 days,” said Ezkersberg.

“A lot of times, the core family has moved away and they want the people that are staying behind to have a good time, so we come to the Y dinner,” said Rosalie Eiler of Naperville.

Each year, the annual Christmas luncheon is put on by the Kroehler YMCA. A recent partnership with the Naperville Park District has made this year’s event bigger and better than ever.

Local resident Joe Wozniak came out with his wife and son to celebrate his son’s birthday. “Everybody enjoys being together and I was surprised there were so many people,” said Wozniak.

Local businesses stepped up to sponsor the tables in a matter of minutes. The Naperville Park District’s Executive Director Ray McGury says within 90 minutes, $4,000 had been donated to the cause. “It’s insane, it’s insane. It’s a testimony to the spirit of giving in this community and that’s not a cliché that’s a fact,” he said.

Local volunteers both young and old served the guests their lunch.

Mya, her sister Raina, and mother, Tia volunteer somewhere every holiday season. “My mom says giving time is more valuable than anything else,” Mya said.

Most of them spend every holiday season giving back. Naperville Resident Kate Frydryk and her family have spent the past three years at this event. “I’m so blessed to have a great family that something like this just makes my Christmas all that much better,” she said.

This year, event organizers had to turn some volunteers down because the outreach was so great. Naperville resident Shoshanna Frank looked for somewhere to spend Christmas Day helping others with her boyfriend and mom, Peggy. “I think it’s a fabulous concept and I really wanted to participate and spread some cheer and really good will. And have an environment where people have almost a sudo-family,” said Frank.

Tyler Hamik is back in Naperville for the holidays while studying at the University of Nebraska. “It’s great, especially doing it with my brothers and sisters. It’s great family time while giving back to the community,” said the student.

Four-year-old Ryan, had no problem spreading holiday cheer among the senior citizens. “Merry Christmas everybody. It’s a wonderful time for everything.”

Plans for next year’s Christmas luncheon will be made right after the New Year. Even more seniors and volunteers are expected to come out.

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