Lodi Musical Theater and volunteers at the American Legion Post 22 are teaming up to spread holiday cheer and raise much-needed funding for roof upgrades at the Legion’s historic hall.
The event will feature a 90-minute Christmas show during dinner, followed by dancing to a DJ.
“Pretty much any holiday song you can possibly imagine or even think of is in this show,” director Nicole Howton said.
The finale will be a 40-voice rendition of “O Holy Night,” she said.
Lodi Musical Theater is providing the performers and decorations for the event to give back to Lodi Post 22, which has welcomed the actors into their space. Post 22 rented to the group after their previous rehearsal space became too expensive.
LMT now rehearses in the hall’s Cross Room, and has space to store costumes and set pieces on the third floor.
Last June, the troupe worked with the Legion to put on a country-western themed barbecue. It was such a success that the two groups paired up again for Jingle & Mingle.
“We do this for the veterans as our thank you for them having opened their doors for us,” Howton said.
They’ll be joined by Legion volunteers who will cook the dinner of turkey and ham, au gratin potatoes, green beans, rolls, cranberry salad and more, according to Howton and Ria Jones, of Post 22.
Cocktails and beer will be available for purchase.
“Several bakeries in Lodi are donating cupcakes for the dessert,” Howton added. Her husband Todd will put them together in a Christmas tree stand, she said.
The Legion is thrilled to be part of the fundraiser, Jones said.
In addition to roof upgrades — which will cost about $25,000 — the 65-year-old building needs a new stage floor, new lighting in the main hall and Cross Room, and a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen.
“The paint’s peeling off the walls,” Jones said.
The American Legion was founded in 1919 — with Lodi’s Post 22 among the first branches — to help veterans of World War I. Since then, the group has grown to include, at first, veterans from any official conflict period, as approved by Congress, which holds the Legion’s charter.
Recently, those rules were changed so that any veteran in good standing can join the Legion, whether they served during conflict periods or not, Jones said.
“We are asking all veterans to please come and join us,” she said. Anyone interested can drop by the Legion from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday — which is also when tickets for the Jingle & Mingle will be available for sale.
The Legion is more than just a group to serve veterans, however. Since Post 22’s American Legion Hall was built, it’s served as a community center, a role it still fills today,
In addition to Lodi Musical Theater, the Legion Hall is used as a teaching and rehearsal space by the International Ballet Theater Institute. The Lodi Tokay Rotary hosts Lodi’s popular Oktoberfest celebration there each year, and schools and community organizations rent out space for events.
The Legion also works with local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and high schools on community service projects.
“We’re involved in every level of our community,” Jones said.