The early planning is again under way for a decades-old tradition in Havre: A turkey dinner with all the trimmings and holiday companionship, served free-of-charge.
Jerry Bergren said the holiday meal will be served at the Havre Eagles Club at 202 1st Street from 11 a. m. to 2 p. m. Sunday, Dec. 25.
The tradition goes back decades, with local resident and former Montana state lawmaker Bob Sivertsen heading the celebration for 17 years before Bergrens took over.
They have been organizing the event for some 10 years.
The intent is to provide a holiday meal and celebration for any who wish to attend. While often people whose family are out of town come to celebrate the holiday with others, entire families attend as well.
Many people eat there each year, with literally hundreds of meals served and delivered, with some years the total being close to a thousand served. Dozens of volunteers typically help with serving the meal and taking care of the tables and cleaning up afterward.
Entertainment usually is provided at the celebration, with local musicians and entertainers volunteering to perform for those having dinner. People also have donated small items in past dinners to give out to children at the event.
The Bergren family, and their employees at PJs Restaurant and Casino, do the cooking for and lead the serving at the event, with volunteers stepping up to help. Often, people come and eat a meal and then help out, Bergren said.
The day starts early, with Bergren and his son, Scott Bergren, often starting cooking by 4 a. m. for past holidays.
Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods prepares the turkeys, but all other cooking is done at the restaurant.
The event is free, put on with the intent of giving everyone the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with good company.
The cost is covered by free-will donations, with Bergrens making up any additional cost if needed. Jerry Bergren said organizations also help, with Devon Energy making a significant donation this year and the Wild Turkey Federation a regular contributor.
Meals also are delivered before the main dinner to people who are not able to get out, with people required to call the North Central Senior Citizens Center at 265-5464 before Christmas to request a delivery.