Gilpin’s seniors enjoy a special holiday repast provided by Ameristar

AmeristarCares_holidaydinnerGuests appreciate camaraderie and excellent service

by Patty Unruh

Folks participating in the senior program at the Gilpin Community Center were treated on Wednesday, December 9, to a holiday meal prepared and served by Black Hawk’s Ameristar Casino. About 60 seniors enjoyed the free dinner and a time to visit with one another.

Sean Demeule, Ameristar’s general manager, said the event was part of their “Ameristar Cares” program, in which the casino supports its local community.

Mary Ellen Makosky directs the senior program at the Community Center. She and aide Katy Emmert made the seniors and the Ameristar staff welcome.

The meal was sumptuous. Diners lined up to choose from turkey, ham with pineapple, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, green beans, salad, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a choice of regular or sugar-free pumpkin pie. The friends enjoyed their meal around cozy tables made festive with holiday centerpieces: Santas, snowmen, trees, reindeer, and gilded baskets.

Steven Jamison, Ameristar’s executive chef, said a team of six staff members had put the meal together the day before. Ten servers were on hand during the dinner. Another chef, Johnny West, added that the event has been held annually for the past six or seven years. The two chefs noted that the Ameristar also does spring yard cleaning for the seniors and a clean-up with United Way. “It’s our way to give back and thank our community as part of ‘Ameristar Cares,’” Jamison said. Makosky also reported that Ameristar had donated $5,000 to the senior program.

The smiling staff members gave the seniors royal treatment, opening the doors for them, serving the food or bringing it to those who needed that assistance, and making sure that guests had plenty of refills of tea or water. They seemed to enjoy it as much as the seniors did; in fact, some of the staff were there on their own time.

Without exception, everyone said the food was fabulous. They also expressed appreciation for the excellent, attentive service.

“The Ameristar dinner is a great tradition,” commented senior Roland Huiy.

Others appreciated the camaraderie. “We’re not alone in this community,” Geoff Gordon asserted gratefully.

Following the meal, it was time for acknowledgements. Senior Director Makosky got everyone’s attention. “This is an amazing party that we have every year. Let’s thank the Ameristar!” The group gave a resounding ovation.

Beth McChesney, president of the Gilpin County Council on Aging, rose to thank everyone for coming. “I hope you’ll also come to our regular lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The food is good over 95 percent of the time!” she teased.

Prior to the lunch, some of the seniors enjoying a game of dominoes in the sitting room. Others took advantage of the free exercise class offered at the Community Center. Makosky advised that this class is funded by donations to the senior program; those donations are getting low, she said.

The senior program plans another lunch at the Black Forest Restaurant in Nederland at 11:30 a.m. on December 17. The cost is $10, and RSVP is required. Call Mary Ellen at 303-515-4292.

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