The Prior Lake Chamber of Commerce and VFW hosted the first-ever Drive Through Senior Luncheon Sept. 28.

Seniors could reserve up to four lunches to be picked up from volunteers outside the hall. Some attendees took their meals to go while others gathered in the hall to chat with one another.

The luncheon is an annual event put on by the chamber and typically held the first Monday of May. Due to COVID-19, organizers had to rethink the event, President of the Prior Lake Chamber of Commerce Sandi Fleck said.

“We love our seniors and we’ve always done a senior luncheon inside and due to COVID we were thinking outside the box ... and so we decided to do a drive through,” Fleck said.

Two-hundred seniors signed up for the event and each car was given a gift bag filled with prizes such as sunglasses, umbrellas, water bottles and more, as they made their way through the line.

“In there we have tons and tons of gift cards. Probably one out of two people will win something,” Fleck added.

Gift cards and goodies came from chamber member and event sponsors Benedictine Living Community of Shakopee; Blahnik Prchal Stoll, PLLC; Club Prior; Goldsmith Eye Care; New Perspective – Prior Lake; St. Gertrude’s Health & Rehabilitation Center; SDDI Sign; and Sterling State Bank.

Just five minutes after the event had officially started, more than half of the registered attendees had already made their way through the line.

This is our way of doing it and they’re loving it,” Fleck said. “It’s just our giveback to our seniors who have done so much for our community.”

Many of the seniors who passed through the line told Fleck they were taking their meals to a nearby park or meeting some friends at their homes for lunch. The event provided an opportunity for seniors to socialize amid the pandemic, she said.

“Whether it’s kindergarten to seniors we all crave that socialization, always,” Fleck said. “The seniors are so appreciative. It’s just eating, it’s just food, and it’s bringing happiness to their faces.”

Instead of a meal out at their favorite restaurant Prior Lake residents John and Jan Legut spent their 57th wedding anniversary lunch driving through the VFW parking lot to pick up a hot meal during the luncheon.

“We’ve been coming to these and they’re just so wonderfully put together,” Jan said. “We enjoy them so much. We like the hospitality and seeing everybody and we can’t do that now but it’s still a little part of it.”

The couple was taking their meals back home to enjoy on their front porch, though they had originally planned to meet another friend at a park to have lunch together. The events have always been a way for the couple to visit with people they don’t get to see very often, John said.

“I think socializing is so important right now,” Jan said. “We can’t just stay in our homes. We really need to get out and meet people. Like us, we’re not doing a lot of things with a big number of people, so [the luncheon] just makes you feel like you’re still involved in life.”

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