For close to 30 years, Henry Sonnenberg had organized and cooked meals for residents on Christmas Day. This year, the Legion and Olds Lions Club and volunteers co-sponsored the event.
In her remarks, Olds mayor Judy Dahl described Sonnenberg as a “father to many” for the hospitality he’s shown others.
Now, “it’s his turn to sit back and enjoy himself,” she continued.
Sonnenberg was presented with a gift — a portrait by local artist Anne Burchill of Main Street, where Sonnenberg’s Olds Bakery and Catering was located.
That was where Sonnenberg first hosted the dinners.
Over time, the venue changed from the Recreation Centre to the Evergreen Centre. Dale Saby was one of the first people to help Sonnenberg organize, recruiting the Lions Club for assistance.
Sonnenberg, in his early 80s, estimates he’s cooked thousands of turkeys. Meals usually included ham, beef, salads, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and desserts.
He started the annual event after noticing that many people had nowhere to share a meal on Christmas Day.
“A few people told me I was nuts,” he said about the early days.
He plans to continue volunteering at future dinners. This year, Sonnenberg helped peel more than 100 pounds of potatoes.
His work doesn’t go unnoticed, with people stopping him for handshakes, hugs and the odd kiss on the cheek.
“I’m not used to having that much attention,” he said. “I’m usually back in the kitchen.”
I’m not used to having that much attention. I’m usually back in the kitchen.” HENRY SONNENBERG