Dozens of volunteers and local businesses helped organize 250 sailors from nearby Naval Station Great Lakes to attend a holiday dinner in Antioch Saturday after last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19.
The annual Antioch Community Sailors Dinner was held on Saturday at Antioch VFW Post 4551, located at 75 North Avenue, according to Village of Antioch Communication Specialist Jim Moran.
Over 80 community volunteers helped organize the event for 250 sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes, which is located near North Chicago.
The sailors enjoyed a holiday meal, entertainment and community support, Moran said.
Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19. Volunteers from the community worked hard to ensure this year’s event could be held by organizing transportation for the sailors, serving the meals and providing tableside service.
Moran said the hard work paid off when volunteers spent the evening exchanging stories and laughing with the sailors.
“For the dinner to happen, the group had to follow strict COVID protocols that were required by the Navy,” Moran said.
Village of Antioch Trustee Scott Pierce said the evening was a “big success.”
Throughout the evening, sailors were treated with a homestyle holiday meal, music by several local musicians, Christmas carols by the Westosha Sweet Adelines Choral Group, trivia games and a speech about “the honor of one’s service to their country.”
They were also given a special visit from Santa Claus.
“They lined up for pictures with Santa to share with their families and friends. The sailors also took the opportunity to tell Santa their Christmas wishes, which included opportunities for advancement and time with their families. It was a great evening for all!” Pierce said.
Several local businesses helped make the event possible.
The Raymond Auto Group provided motor coaches to transport the sailors to and from the naval station.
Piggly Wiggly and Lovin’ Oven provided food for the meals and organizations like the VFW and Auxiliary, American Legion and Auxiliary, Antioch Junior Women’s Club, Antioch Lions, 885 Club, The Moose, the Yost Family and Village of Antioch Trustee Mary Dominiak contributed financially to the event.