139th Annual George Washington Birthday Dinner

Tremendous Success!!


139th George Washington Birthday Dinner Tremendous Success!! Congratulations to everyone who helped make our 139th birthday dinner buffet such a tremendous success! We sold 309 tickets this year versus 268 tickets last year. Our guests enjoyed Roast Turkey, Baked Ham, and Baked Haddock plus many tasty side dishes. Throughout the evening we heard lots of compliments about the food and how friendly and helpful our staff was.


The Dinner Planning Team thanks all the wonderful volunteers who worked before, during and
the dinner. Volunteers worked in planning the dinner, selling tickets, publicity, securing ads for the Ad Booklet, decorating the Parish Hall, ordering and preparing food, greeting our guests, serving on the buffet line, waiting and busing tables, serving desserts and beverages, taking dirty dishes to the kitchen, washing dishes, pots and pans, setting up and breaking down the Parish Hall, conducting Sanctuary tours, and a myriad of other small and large tasks.


We kept our ticket prices the same as last year. Our Ad Booklet looked the best it has in a number of years and brought in just over $3,000.00. The layout for our Booklet was excellent and the print was very clear thanks to Roberta’s talents and our new office copier. In spite of the helium shortage, two parishioners donated the cost of having an outside company use their helium to blow up some balloons to make the Parish Hall festive. We are very grateful to Mann’s for again donating the Apple Crisp. Pending a final tabulation of expenses, we appear to be on track to have raised between $4,500.00 to $5,000.00.


Our church and the dinner enjoyed a lot of good publicity this year. We took an ad package with The Eagle Tribune which gave us 4 color ads in The Tribune starting Valentine’s Day. We were mentioned in their “Region in a minute”, on Monday, in an article Wednesday, February 20th, and a picture of George & Martha appeared on the front page of The Tribune with a very good article on Monday, February 25th. We had color ads in Methuen and Salem Life in February as well as having a good social media presence and being on our church web site.


Again, the Dinner Planning Team would like to thank the over 70 volunteers who worked on the dinner and who gave our guests such a delicious meal, friendly service, and a wonderful evening. Without everyone working together as a team, we could not have planned and executed this long-cherished tradition so well.


139th George Washington Birthday Dinner Planning Team: Allan & Bobbie Barlow, Carolyn Casey, Alison Comeau, Josh Ferry, Justin Hodgkins, Pat King, Ken Peck, Patrick Romano, Deb MaueSprague, and Marilyn Peck, Team Leader 

Eagle Tribune Article 

Article originally published in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune on Monday, February 24, 2019



Celebrating our nation's first president with food and conversation

By Mike LaBella mlabella@eagletribune.com 


METHUEN — George and Martha Washington were the honored guests when the First Church Congregational hosted its 139th Annual George Washington Birthday Dinner on Saturday.


The famous couple were in full colonial-era attire as they greeted guests, who enjoyed a buffet of freshly roasted turkey breast, baked ham, baked haddock, and all manner of sides.


The First Church Congregational, Methuen's oldest church, celebrated its 139th consecutive celebration of hosting this dinner.

Open to the public, the celebration required the efforts of 70 volunteers supervised by team leader Marilyn Peck. Teenage and adult members of the church helped as did a large kitchen staff led by parishioner and chef, Pat Romano.


His crew fed a crowd of more than 300 guests, who filed in and out of the festively decorated hall over a three hour period. 

It is the parish's biggest fundraiser of the year to generate operating expenses.


The meal used to be a single main course served by volunteers, but since the parish hall kitchen was modernized several years ago, Romano's staff has presented buffets with expanded offerings.


This year's meal featured a carving station with freshly roasted turkey and baked ham as well as baked haddock and sides including salad, antipasto, green beans, butternut squash, macaroni and cheese, vegan chili, mashed potatoes and more. 

Apple crisp along with coffee, tea, and lemonade completed what guests said was a hearty meal.


"We intend to keep Washington's birthday alive and well," said Stephen Boyko, one of the event's organizers. "Traditions are important to us."


Patrick and Rebecca Wright of Methuen dressed in Colonial era clothing, greeting guests and handing them programs as they filed into the parish hall. 


"We enjoy meeting members of our church family and those who are new to us," Rebecca Wright said with a big smile.


Thomas Savastano, 86, of Methuen brought along his daughters, Dina Rossi of Methuen and Paulajoy Savastano of Lowell.

"It's wonderful being with friends you haven't seen in a while," Savastano said as he and his daughters dug into food piled high on china plates. "I love the change to a buffet, as we now get to choose."


Longtime parishioner Carol Gray has attended the dinner since 1962, when she joined the church.

"It'a always a wonderful meal," she said.


Guests were also invited to tour the sanctuary and marvel at its beautiful stained glass windows, including a massive piece called "The Resurrection" that was created by master glass artist John La Farge (1835-1910).

"The reason we have this La Farge window is that Mrs. Nevins, who commissioned the piece in memory of her husband, thought that Tiffany (Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany & Co.) was a hack and she did not like his work," joked the Rev. Bill Ingraham, pastor of First Church Congregational.


According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, George Washington's Birthday is one of 11 permanent holidays established by Congress, and contrary to popular belief, neither congress nor the president has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday observed as Washington's Birthday be changed to "President's Day."


George Washington was born in Virginia on Feb. 22, 1732, and his birthday is celebrated on the third Monday in February.

Parish members Glenn Sprague and Becky Smith introduced visitors to the La Farge stained glass window, which measures 22-feet wide by 15-feet high, and the massive 1886 James E. Treat Opus 1 pipe organ, which was built between 1886 and 1888 for Edward Searles' Great Barrington home and was moved to the First Church in 1924.


"Most people are wowed just by looking at its magnificence," Sprague said about the La Farge window. "They are equally amazed at the organ