Brooklyn Heights resident looks to revive holiday dinner tradition

Join in: Brooklyn Heights resident Sondra Fagen is looking to revive a decades-old holiday tradition of hers of bringing together people looking for a community potluck on the Fourth of July.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Talk about community spirit!

Brooklyn Heights resident Sondra Fagen wants to bring victims of natural disasters together for a gathering on the Fourth of July.

Fagen has been hosting large gatherings in Brooklyn and beyond for decades, and wants to bring back her tradition with a “Christmas in July” potluck party for anybody who suffered loss during natural disasters and people looking for a community more broadly.

The do-gooder has taken a break in recent years from her event hosting after a brutal subway attack and a cancer diagnosis left her wheelchair-bound, but the 82-year-old said that will not hold her back from organizing another great get-together that could help people from all over the country.

“Wouldn’t it be nice for us to invite people to New York during the holiday season? It’s a community basically,” Fagen said.

The journalist who has written for the Brooklyn Heights Press and has penned singles columns for several publications, started her tradition in the 1960s when a man wrote into her column asking where he could spend Thanksgiving.

One of the holiday hostess’ Easter feasts even got a write up in the New York Times in 1982, when she and her fellow revelers dined on rock cornish hen, quiche, fried chicken, lox, cream cheese, salads, and homemade desserts in between live music and group singing, this paper reported.

Bringing people together has been a blessing for her, and when asked why she keeps doing it despite her ailing health, she quoted the author of the Peter Pan books, James M. Barrie.

“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves,” she said.

The do-gooder is looking for help to host this year’s summer dinner and she is eager to hear from any charitable Brooklyn Heights resident who would be able to offer up their back yard for the event, along with other people willing and able to help her organize the gathering and spread the word through social media.

Anyone willing to open their home, donate a venue for the event, or willing to help organize the party can contact Sondra Fagen at (718) 522–0506 or at fagenent@yahoo.com.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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