A decades-old Christmas tradition in Oklahoma City has come to an end.
There will be no Red Andrews Christmas Dinner this year, said organizers, citing health issues.
For more than 60 years, people in need have flocked to the annual event, which provided a Christmas Day meal for thousands and toys for children.
In recent years, the dinner has been at the Cox Convention Center with between 5,000 and 10,000 people served. Last year, there were about 6,000 people, said Bob McCord, 60, of Lamar. More than 1,000 volunteers helped serve meals and pass out toys.
McCord is the son of Betty McCord, who organized the event for years after her uncle Red Andrews died. Bob McCord said his mother is suffering from dementia these days, his wife has had two heart attacks and he has problems with his back and feet.
“It just got to be too much for me and the rest of us,” Bob McCord said. “It takes a lot of boot scootin' for a month to pull this off each year.”
But the need continues, McCord said, adding he is sad to see the annual event come to an end.
“The way the economy is out there right now we hate to not do this, but we need to let people know that if we get donations they will be returned,” McCord said.
He suggests people make donations to the Jesus House, where an annual Christmas dinner for the homeless takes place.
Red Andrews was a state representative and boxing and wrestling event promoter who had the idea for a Christmas dinner and started one in Tulsa in 1928 at his home before he moved to Oklahoma City. Betty McCord has said the annual Christmas dinner started here in 1942. However, some family members have said it started in 1944 or 1945.
R.J. McCord, 41, of Jones, has been helping volunteer at the event for eight years since marrying Bob McCord's son Travis.
R.J. McCord helped coordinate the toy giveaways to families while they wait in line.
“One of my greatest joys was seeing a child receive a toy. Their faces would light up and you would see them with a big grin,” she said.
R.J. McCord said people also might want to donate to the American Red Cross to help people on the East Coast affected by storms.