With COVID-19 still rearing its ugly head, the City of Dayton has altered its plans for the annual Veterans Day Appreciation Luncheon. Instead of having a sit-down meal and program for local veterans, organizers are planning a drive-through luncheon this Wednesday, Nov. 11, where veterans and their guests will receive their choice of a free meal from one of seven Dayton restaurants.
“We have changed it this year due to the fact that most of our attendees are at high risk for COVID-19. Many of our veterans are in their 80s. For their safety, we have chosen to do a drive-through event this year,” said Amanda Wilson, community services administrator for the City of Dayton. “The City has not forgotten about them on their day. We are just doing our best to keep them safe.”
In pre-COVID-19 years, roughly 700 veterans and their guests would pack the community center to hear from special speakers and to enjoy fellowship and a meal with their peers. While this year won’t be exactly as years past, Wilson hopes the veterans will still come away feeling appreciated for their service to the nation.
The City of Dayton, working with the seven local restaurants, is providing the meals. Each veteran and one guest will receive their choice of a meal from Chicken Express, Texas Seafood and Steakhouse, Dayton Diner, Subway’s, Los Compadres, Mike’s BBQ, Catfish and Steaks, and Pappy’s Barbecue.
“The City has ordered a total of 700 meals, 100 from each of the seven restaurants. When they drive through, they will be given a menu from which to choose,” said Wilson. “We want them to bring along a guest – a spouse, friend or relative. It would be terrible to send them home without having lunch with someone.”
The event begins at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Cars may begin lining up about an hour before the event in the Dayton Community Center parking lot on the south side entrance where the senior citizens center is located inside.
“We won’t start passing out meals until 11 a.m. but they are welcome to line up early if they want. We will not be providing drinks or plasticware. Each person will also be treated to their choice of dessert provided by Dairy Queen. The two options are an ice cream sandwich or a Dilly Bar.
“We are looking forward to having short conversations with our veterans while they are in line and are looking forward to next year. We want to be in full swing next year and get back to our normal program,” Wilson said.
Meals will be served by the City of Dayton employees and elected officials and Dayton Chamber of Commerce staff. The Dayton Community Center is located at 801 S. Cleveland St., Dayton. For more information, call 936-258-6630.