This month, East Ridge at Cutler Bay will be abuzz with holiday activities as the life plan community’s residents celebrate the Christmas season.
Many events are steeped in traditions that have been taking place every year and are eagerly anticipated by residents who have lived at East Ridge for many years as well as newcomers.
“Since many older adults find holidays a difficult time as their families may live out of state, living in a life plan community brings them together with new friends and neighbors. Their calendars now are filled with a host of things to do during the holidays,” explained Mary Scott Russell, director of marketing for the community.
Among the traditions celebrated at East Ridge is the annual Holiday Bazaar and Pancake Breakfast that took place on Saturday, December 1. It has become a tradition to enjoy pancakes, prepared by the culinary staff at the community, before the bazaar opens.
East Ridge “Village Crafters”, residents who participate in the crafting club and ceramics class, work all year on the merchandise that is sold at the bazaar. Many of the items have a holiday theme including throw pillows, Christmas ornaments and wreaths, placemats, beaded jewelry and more. Created with seniors in mind by seniors, they are perfect gifts for a favorite relative or friend. Plants were for sale from the East Ridge nursery and fine gifts from the Thrift Shop. Proceeds raised are then used to benefit the community.
Another longtime East Ridge tradition that is especially meaningful to resident Barbara Sims is the “Three Sisters Luncheon” on December 20. The luncheon has a lot of history and is probably now in its 21st year according to Sims. She continues the tradition of three sisters who were living at East Ridge: Dottie Lester, Ruth Hecht and Lou Hassencamp. They hosted a holiday luncheon for residents who did not have family living in South Florida. They would cook the food themselves and coordinate the details. There was music, singing of Christmas songs and everyone shared their favorite holiday stories.
Every year, the menu was the same and was always a favorite event. When Dottie Lester became ill, Sims continued the Three Sister’s Luncheon. The first year, Sims retained the sisters’ original menu but now has introduced new recipes. Now, Sims and Sandra Reed co-host the event.
This year, the menu includes ham, scalloped potatoes (a recipe contributed from a Betty Crocker cookbook), salad, and Sim’s popular pumpkin cake which is a special recipe she acquired from her niece.
“Usually 25-30 people attend and everyone is welcomed,” said Sims.
Village volunteers follow Sim’s recipes so the food is consistent.
The community is a popular location for children groups to come and perform. Children from Anna Ventura Violin School were at East Ridge on Sunday, December 2; Christ Fellowship Church’s youth group on Friday, December 7, Vanessa Bryan Dance School on December 15, and Thomas Lutheran Church on December 21. East Ridge residents are an appreciative audience and the community’s Lifestyle Center’s auditorium is the perfect venue for these performances.
Other high points include the annual community holiday sing-a-long on Friday evening, December 14. Residents and guests sing holiday favorites and a Christmas brunch is planned for Christmas Day with marvelous violin music by Elias Garnik adding to the yuletide spirit.
East Ridge will close out 2018 with an annual casino night celebrating New Year’s Eve for the last party of the year. Residents appreciate the convenience of a celebration within the community which doesn’t require driving or crowds.