New Kensington mayor’s annual Christmas dinner set for Dec. 7
New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo is on a mission to make sure no one goes hungry or feels alone during the holidays.
For the past eight years, Guzzo has thrown a free Christmas dinner for people who may not be able to enjoy a holiday meal. He will continue the annual tradition — one he has promised will remain ongoing as long as he is mayor — this year.
“If there’s an opportunity for somebody to have a good dinner and not be alone, I think that’s probably the most important message of the holiday … just doing something for someone who might be in a little bit of need at that moment,” Guzzo said.
The ninth “Mayor’s Annual Christmas Dinner” will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at Fire Station No. 1. on Fourth Avenue. A Christmas Tree lighting ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Ninth Street and Fourth Avenue. A Christmas parade is planned for 11 a.m. the following day.
Guzzo and his wife, Amy, pay for a large portion of the meal and serve it.
This year’s menu includes ham with a honey-orange glaze, pasta, meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, cake and drinks.
“The food’s delicious,” New Kensington Assistant Fire Chief Ed Saliba Jr. said.
Community members, city administrators, firefighters and Valley High School students also lend a hand. Members of the high school choir sing, the boys on Valley’s varsity baseball team serve food, and Valley varsity wrestlers or football players help take down tables and clean up after the meal, Guzzo said.
“We have various people throughout the community who have been with us every year,” he said. “The firemen are just so wonderful because we have it there every year, and they help. It’s just a real nice community effort.”
The free dinner is popular, serving about 250 to 300 people per year. Guzzo estimates it has dished out about 2,500 meals over the past eight years.
“It’s my favorite day of the year. I enjoy it so much. I get emotional over it,” Guzzo said. “We, hopefully, put some smiles on a lot of people’s faces, and that’s all it’s about.”
Saliba said the dinner has always been successful.
“There’s a lot of people that probably don’t have the chance to sit down with family and enjoy a good meal, and here they are. They don’t have to worry about preparing a meal just for one person,” Saliba said. “In all of the years that (Guzzo) has done this, I have seen a lot of the same people. Just by looking at their faces, you could see that they’re really looking forward to this. It’s a very nice home-away-from-home atmosphere.”
Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected], or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.