By Mrinal Gokhale
The Milwaukee Salvation Army held its first Christmas family feast in 1990. The event was held at Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center and drew about 3,000 people. This year, that number has gone up to 7,000.
“The event has nearly doubled in attendance. It even had to move to a much larger location because it has become a holiday tradition for thousands more,” said Amy Hand, media relations director at the Salvation Army.
This year’s event was held at the Wisconsin Center District. Upon walking into the doors, attendees were greeted by volunteers dressed like Santa Claus, Mrs. Santa Claus, and elves.
A choir stood outside the banquet room, playing Christmas tunes and volunteers provided free haircuts and braiding to attendees.
Attendees enjoyed yams, turkey, ham, green beans, and other hearty entrees as local DJ Homer Blow played music in the banquet room.
Children had the chance to take photos with Santa Claus and received gifts while supplies lasted, ranging from toys, books, and games.
Although it has been reported that the Salvation Army has fallen short of its yearly fundraising goals, its Christmas feast remains a success in feeding thousands of Milwaukeeans.
“We just want to serve as many people as we can. In addition to the meals served at the Wisconsin Center, we also provide pre-plated meals to local shelters and church feeding programs,” said Hand.
The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County’s Christmas Family Feast is sponsored by many local organizations. These include Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, AT&T, Samster, Konkel and Safran Personal Injury Attorneys, WNOV, Hunger Task Force, Brewers Community Foundation, We Energies Foundation, Wisconsin Center District, Jammin 98.3, Landmark Credit Union, Hupy and Abraham, Milwaukee Courier, Pick ‘n Save, Reinhart Food Service, Sara Lee, Milwaukee County Transit Services, Hyatt Regency, The New Pitts Mortuary, Cedar Crest Ice Cream, Food for the Hungry, Milwaukee Times and Milwaukee Community Journal.