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St. Anthony event kicks off holiday season
Roz Leon, a member of the Parent-Teacher Group that started the annual holiday luncheon 48 years ago at St. Anthony School, stops to chat with Veronica DeBrum, wife of Manteca mayor-elect SteveDeBrum. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

It was like old times.

Manteca dentist Pamela Andrews and her staff, Jennifer Puppo and Kristi Newcombe, joined the long line of guests at the 48th annual St. Anthony School Luncheon and Holiday Craft Faire on Wednesday. Elsie Holland, Mary McCleary and other longtime friends occupied a round table for their annual luncheon reunion.

The annual fund-raiser for the school, for decades, has always been a popular reunion spot for friends and extended families, as well as a social occasion for office workers to get together while sharing a mid-day meal and indulging themselves to some early Christmas shopping at the same time.

The luncheon is also a nostalgic occasion for several regular guests like Roz Leon. The longtime resident was one of parents in the school’s Parent Teacher Group who hatched the idea of a holiday salad luncheon – the event’s original name – as a yearly fund-raiser.

“That was 48 years ago. All the parents had to bring four 9”x3” (containers of) salads. (The late) Mrs. (Helen) Pitts used to make the main one – a chicken salad – and the parents did everything else,” Leon said as she browsed through the two-dozen craft booths featured in the Wednesday holiday extravaganza.

“We (parents) were busy; we had little kids. But we did it,” she added.

Among the day’s best-selling items were the handmade scarves such as the ones displayed in the Memes Fashion & Handbags booth where guest Mina Guzman brought an infinity scarf. Gayle Foster bought not just one but two of the same in another booth.

Retired professional secretary Fe Park’s best-seller for the day was her cloth book – she called them “soft books” titled “First Book of Faith.” Other crafts on sale in her booth were figurines of Pilgrims made out of recycled film canisters.

Friends Mary of Marie’s Decor and Fe Azevedo were kept busy throughout the three-and-a-half-hour craft faire by shoppers who were attracted to the talented women’s home décor floral creations.

Rounding out the luncheon and craft event was the drawing of several big-ticket prizes that included several theme baskets, teeth whitening courtesy of Pamela Andrews Dental, and a red sapphire and diamond necklace donated by New York Diamonds which was the grand prize.

Parents of students in black-and-white uniforms were the servers, with eighth graders wearing Santa hats busing the tables.