Turtle’s Tap restaurant in Morris will once again be serving up Christmas dinner with all the fixin’s this year, courtesy of its many patrons who have thrown coins in the lobby fountain during the year.
It’s the 16th time the eatery has sponsored the event, begun by owner Kevin “Turtle” Krople, and it just keeps growing larger every year.
“We had close to 400 last year,” Turtle’s General Manager Diane Eartly said, “but we had enough room.”
The meal will include turkey, mashed potatoes, beans, pumpkin pie and more. It is free to anyone who is not able to spend the holiday with family.
“We do it so nobody’s alone at Christmas time,” Eartly said.
“We open up the doors. It’s not just for the less fortunate. It’s for anyone who might not have family or who can’t be with their family on that day.”
All kinds of people come, she said, from young couples who might be away from family on Christmas to retired folks who might not have any family.
The meal is not run by restaurant staff, though. It’s all volunteer-staffed, from the planning down to the cooking, serving and cleaning up.
“They have it down,” Eartly said. “They have a system. They’re like little elves.”
And speaking of elves, the man himself, Santa Claus, is expected to show up, as well, with a gift for everyone.
In addition to the dollars collected coin by coin from the fountain, donors really step up to the plate when it comes to filling those plates each year, Eartly said. There are those who donate money and items, in addition to their time.
“One gentleman just brought us a big box of wrapping paper,” she said.
The holiday meal is not offered at the restaurant’s original Dwight location, only in the Morris one, which is larger. No reservations are necessary, either. Just show up, Eartly said.
“We’re all just glad we were able to play a part in people having a merry Christmas,” she said.
Turtle’s Tap is located at 100 E. Waverly Street in Morris.