Saturday, December 07, 2019 04:39pm
North Adams, MA now: 25 °   
Send news, tips, press releases and questions to info@iBerkshires.com
The Berkshires online guide to events, news and Berkshire County community information.
SIGN IN | REGISTER NOW   

Printer Friendly Version
   Recommend this story to a friend

iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

American Legion Post 125: "Be Our Guest"

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dennis Labonte shows just a few of the turkeys that will be roasted for the Frank R. Stiles American Legion Post 125 Dec. 25 "Be Our Guest" dinner.
North Adams - For Dennis Labonte, it's all about the meals.

Beginning today, Labonte and a volunteer crew including Lou Morin, Bob McConnell, Ernest "Babe" Lussier, William Schrade, Dennis St. Pierre and dozens of others plan to initiate the preparation, cooking, delivery and serving of the 51st Frank R. Stiles American Legion Post 125 "Be Our Guest" dinner.

"We'd Like To Keep It That Way"

This year marks Labonte's 24th as a dinner chef, and he is interested in hearing from individuals who are willing to keep the holiday dinner tradition going.


The hall was decorated by Drury High School students.
Labonte said he believes he will continue to spend his holiday preparing the dinner for the next few years -"I wouldn't do anything else" - but once he retires from his culinary position at Williams College, "things may be different."

"I do wish that there was somebody younger interested in this that I could train," he said. "This is the 'Be Our Guest" dinner and we'd like to keep it that way."

Learned From The Best

Labonte learned the finer points of the meal preparation under the tutelage of George Heisler, he said. After Heisler's death, Labonte worked with other volunteers, including Joseph Cariddi.

"And Barbara Shea, she was unbelievable," Labonte said. "She [roasted] all the turkeys at her house for years."

The free meal is served on Christmas Day at the legion hall on American Legion Drive. The dinner is open to the public and seating begins at 11 a.m.; earlier in the day, volunteers are expected to deliver about 300 meals. Recipients include on-duty police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and those who are unable to leave their homes.

There is limit to meal delivery, Labonte said.

"We do not deliver to drinking establishments."

Community Contributions Add To The Day

On Dec. 22, students of Drury High School art teacher Patrick Boulger decorated the dining area. Tables were draped with red and green coverings, windows were adorned with clear or multi-colored light swags, and an array of painted, wooden ornaments surrounded a brightly-lit tree or graced dining tables as centerpieces.

Labonte estimated that about 600 meals will be served at the legion and about 300 will be delivered.

Williams College donated all the turkeys to be used for the meal, Labonte said. About 20 25-pound birds and another 10 that range between 14 and 20 pounds are expected to be cooked, he said. The legion meal includes a first course of soup, a turkey dinner with potatoes and vegetables, and a dessert. The dessert pies were baked by Gabriel Abbott elementary school students. The school is in Florida, Mass..

Labonte encouraged people to make the trip to the legion for the meal. Each diner is sent home with a brown-bag-style sandwich meal and the festivities include musical entertainment provided by a locally-popular band, "The Aladdins."

A meal tradition is that the Post 125 commander acts as host; this year, Post 125 Commander Thomas Lussier has the honor, Labonte said.

The event cost was covered by Post 125 for many years, Labonte said.

"As the cost of things went up, we had to solicit, we had to," he said.

But as costs have increased, so has the volunteer commitment of many Northern Berkshire residents, Labonte said.

Happy To Do Anything At All

"The people of Northern Berkshire are wonderful, really wonderful," he said. "People volunteer to make deliveries, people come here and serve, people come down on Christmas Day and they are happy to do anything, anything at all. This is why I say the people of Northern Berkshire are wonderful."

"I have a good crew in the kitchen and what I like is that we can mingle with people," he continued. "And this isn't just for people who have no place else to go, people come here because they love it, they see people they haven't seen in a long time. We've had friendships form because people got together here."

The best way to understand the impact of the "Be Our Guest" event is through experience, Labonte said.

"People who've never been here, who've never had the meal, well, they just don't know how much fun, how special, it is."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.
Your Comments
Post Comment
I JUST WANT TO SAY HOW PROUD I AM OF MY HUSBAND,DENNIS . NOT ONLY FOR WHAT HE DOES ON CHRISTMAS DAY AT THE LEGION.......BUT WHAT HE DOES ALL YEAR AT THE LEGION
from: barb st.pon: 12-26 00:00:00-2006

Always happy to read about a Legion Post doing good.
Thank You
from: on: 12-23 00:00:00-2006


 
View All
Pittsfield Tree Lighting 2019
The City of Pittsfield officially kicked off the holiday...
North Adams Tree Lighting...
North Adams kicked off the holiday season with the slightly...
Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest
Gabriel Abbott School’s annual Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest...
McCann LPN Graduation 2019
McCann Technical School held its pinning ceremony for 20...
Williamstown Veterans Day...
Williamstown's American Legion Post 152 holds Veterans Day...
Pittsfield Veterans Day 2019
The Pittsfield Veterans Day Parade stepped off at 10 a.m....
North Adams Veterans Day 2019
North Adams held its Veterans Day observes Monday morning...
Cross Country: Multiple teams...
Ted Yee finished second overall, and Colin Young placed...
Ephs Defeat Amherst, 31-9
Senior safety Ben Anthony's interception return for a...
G Soccer: Smith Academy vs...
Lenox girls soccer team won over Smith Academy 2-0 in the...
Football: Lee vs Hoosac...
Lee High football team wins over Hoosac Valley 12-7 on...
G Soccer: Frontier vs Mount...
McWeeny's successful PK clinched a 4-1 shootout win for the...
G Soccer: Palmer vs Hoosac...
Sydni Jamross scored late in the first overtime Tuesday to...
G Soccer: Pathfinder vs...
McCann Tech girls soccer team win 4-1 over Pathfinder in...
B Soccer: Mohawk vs McCann...
McCann Tech boys soccer team lost to Mohawk in Penalty...
Football: Pittsfield vs...
The Taconic football team enjoyed contributions from all...
Pittsfield Tree Lighting 2019
The City of Pittsfield officially kicked off the holiday...
North Adams Tree Lighting...
North Adams kicked off the holiday season with the slightly...
Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest
Gabriel Abbott School’s annual Oh Be Thankful Pie Contest...
McCann LPN Graduation 2019
McCann Technical School held its pinning ceremony for 20...
Williamstown Veterans Day...
Williamstown's American Legion Post 152 holds Veterans Day...
| Home | A & E | Business | Community News | Dining | Real Estate | Schools | Sports & Outdoors | Berkshires Weather | Weddings
Advertise | Recommend This Page | Help Contact Us | Privacy Policy| User Agreement
iBerkshires.com is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384 F.413-664-4251
© 2000 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved