VALE – Starlite Café Manager Ray Hage said people traveling on Christmas Day who stop to get a bite to eat are always surprised.

“You should see the look on their faces. They go to pay and I say ‘It’s free.’ They just stare and say ‘No one does that now,’” said Hage.

The free Christmas breakfast and dinner at the Starlite Café in Vale has become a local holiday staple.

It is one of many area holiday events in the coming days.

This year the restaurant is offering a breakfast of either biscuits and gravy or pancakes. At the dinner, which kicks off at noon and goes to 2 p.m., the Starlite will offer a free sirloin roast or ham spread.

“It is more of a potluck but we bring in the main staples,” said Hage.

Last year Hage said about 130 people showed up on Christmas but there could be more this year judging by the number that appeared for the café’s free Thanksgiving dinner.

“That was the biggest turnout,” said Hage.

More than 230 people arrived for a free ham or turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, said Hage.

Hage said a large number of elderly and younger people show up on Christmas.

“It’s actually gotten to be a pretty good turnout,” said Hage.

Hage said the free dinner began “10 to 12 years ago.” 

“Everything is free. It is a good thing,” said Hage.

Hage said the Starlite is also looking for volunteers to help with clean up. To volunteer call the café at 541-473-2500.

Also on the calendar

The Starlite isn’t the only local place offering a free Christmas dinner. 

In Nyssa, the senior center will host its annual free Christmas dinner between noon and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 25. The senior center will also home delivery of the Christmas meal. The center is looking for volunteers to help with the dinner set up, serving and cleaning. To volunteer, contact 541-372-2987. 

Thursday, Dec. 20., the Ontario School District will present is Winter Family Fun Night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The event, held at Ontario Middle School, gives children of all ages an opportunity to participate in fund events focused on math and reading. 

In Vale, Perk Coffee at 590 Washington Street W. will host an improv comedy show featuring Bree Jones, Austin Von Johnson and Alora Cheek on Friday, Dec. 21. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $12. To buy a ticket call Perk Coffee at 541-473-4191. 

The coffee house will also host a Christmas Eve mimosa bar from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and offer multiple juices, fruits and other toppings to choose from. The drinks will be regular price. 

In Harper, the Harper Church of the Nazarene will offer a Candlelight Service at 6 p.m. Dec. 23. People are invited to join in and light a candle in prayer for someone. The church is at 2977 2nd St. in Harper.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.