NORTH BAY -- Those looking for a Holiday fest this Christmas in North Bay will have the opportunity, regardless of happens with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several partners gathered at The Gathering Place on Thursday to announce the dinner will be moving forward.

“The most (important) message that we wanted to get out was that there will be a Christmas day dinner in whatever form,” said organizer Sylvia Antinozzi. “It could be in different forms, but there will be a Christmas dinner and it will be held at Memorial Gardens.”

There will be two options for people this year, either a sit-down meal that will be served in a takeout container, or takeout only. Takeout will be available all day this year so people can choose whatever option they feel safer with.

COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place.

“Everybody will be required to have a mask and the servers will have to have a shield,” said Antinozzi. “And we’ll have two employees there from the city to help us out with all the cleaning and the picking up.”

Extra masks

Extra masks will be available in case someone shows up without one.

“They have to write their name, number or address, or whatever they can give us, not everybody has that to give us, but there will be a list at the front,” she said.

Officials said they were very close to cancelling the dinner this year, but knew they had to find a way to make it possible for those in need in the community.

“When they approached me and said there’s an actual risk that this might not happen, we just jumped on board and said ‘how can we help?’’ said Dennis Chippa from The Gathering Place. “So we’re very excited. I mean, like I say, in a year where we’ve been hearing things that can’t happen this Holiday season, to be able to say this is going to happen one way or the other like Sylvia mentioned, so one way or the other we’re going to make this happen is really exciting.”

“Christmas is probably the day where you feel the most lonely," said Antinozzi. "It’s a way to give back to the community on a day that you should be sharing your joy and sharing your wealth."

Usually the event draws in approximately 100 volunteers, however, due to the pandemic there will be smaller numbers this year.

'Incredibly difficult year'

“This has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us,” said Chippa. “For the vulnerable population, this has been an even more incredibly difficult year and to be able to say this one thing will happen, I think is important."

Rebuilt Resources in North Bay is donating more funds than usual this year.

“We normally do a $1,000, we usually pay for the turkeys,” said CEO Maureen Brazeau. “But this year we did, I think, most of the food. With the breakdown, we’re doing most of the food and I know if they need a little more help they can just come back to us.”

“I believe that we need a Christmas every day and we need to be kind and be good with people everyday and not just Christmas,” Brazeau added.

The Christmas Day dinner is expected to take place from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 25.

For those wishing to help with monetary donations, you can email: