NORMAN — A full cafeteria and long lines greeted families as they arrived for the 27th annual Christmas Norman tradition, but spirits remained high regardless of the wait.
Families could be seen laughing and enjoying conversation as the lines progressed quickly thanks to a highly organized army of volunteers serving meals, preparing food, cleaning pans and plating up dessert.
“This may be the biggest one ever, we still have people showing up,” Bob Magarian, Director of the Norman Christmas Day Community Dinner, said of the overwhelming response Wednesday at Norman High School.
The Norman Music Institute’s Christmas All-Stars, led by Joel Forlenza on keyboard, provided holiday music for guests. They filled the Norman High School dining hall with Christmas tunes and entertainment as the guests made their way through the crowd.
Kitchen staff filled plates and kept sprits high as guests gratefully received their food and made their way to the dining area. Behind the front line, workers frantically cleaned and prepped to keep the food rolling out.
As the guests ate, service carts roamed the cafeteria filling drinks and trash collectors came to diners’ tables to clear debris while more volunteers cleaned tables for the next group. Despite the number of people being served, an open table always seemed to materialize for families that needed one.
Santa made his way through the dining room reaching into his green sack to pull out candies and small gifts for children as he roamed from table to table. Kids and adults alike could be seen laughing and talking as the jolly old elf left each family.
Outside the dining hall, a line of families waited to select toys and gifts from piles of donated items assuring all left with gifts for Christmas. Children could be seen leaving the school with balls, toy cars, dolls and craft items.