By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — You know Christmas is coming soon when the selectmen and other town officials cook and serve their annual breakfast at the Senior Center.
The festive meal drew about 200 people who serve the community in various ways, including board members and town employees, yesterday morning. All five selectmen — Chairman William Gordon, Tracy Watson, Rosemary Connelly Smedile, Richard Vaillancourt and Donald Stewart plus Town Manager Andrew Maylor, Assistant Town Manager Ray Santilli and other officials — pitched in and cooked eggs, sausages and home fries.
Stewart explained that the tradition began in 1991, when he and another selectman, Kenneth Crouch, thought it would be nice to show appreciation to the volunteers who serve on local boards and commissions as well as town employees. So they, Crouch’s wife Carrie and other selectmen cooked up the holiday breakfast.
“It’s gotten bigger and bigger,” Stewart said. The veteran selectman, who has the reputation of being a numbers guy, said they bought 65 dozen eggs and 75 pounds of potatoes.
No, the money to pay for the breakfast did not come from the taxpayers, Stewart said. The selectmen generally kick in $40 each, he said.
The event also included a raffling off of Christmas trees. Yes, Christmas trees.
“We still call them Christmas trees,” Watson said. The big winner of the Christmas tree raffle was Jo-Ann Lanen, a secretary and receptionist with the Department of Public Works.
She won three trees. Her boss, Public Works Director Bruce Thibodeau, wondered how she got so lucky.
The trees were donated by local businesses. The proceeds of the raffle will go to the Friends of the North Andover Senior Center.