The only complaint at the annual Astoria Senior Center open house was there were too few chairs and tables for the 200-plus hungry members and visitors who wanted to enjoy the Hawaiian-style luau lunch.

To board president Helen McDaniel, it meant only that the Oct. 12 event was a success.

"We are very pleased with the turnout. It is good to see so many folks here to enjoy the efforts of the Tongue Point Culinary School," McDaniel said.

With support from Tongue Point Executive Director Nancy Pyburn, students from chef Michael Geurds' culinary class catered the event. Enthusiastic student chefs performed double duty as servers, greeting the long line of members and guests.

Senior Center manager Paula Fisher noted the partnership between Tongue Point and the center has a strong history.

"Students painted the entire inside of the building. We truly appreciate the efforts they put forth for the center," she said.

McDaniel pointed out that most of the food was donated by area businesses, and that Tongue Point does not provide catering to for-profit businesses or individuals.

"We could not afford this kind of meal if we had to pay a restaurant, so they are not losing out," she said.

Donors providing supplies for the event included the North Coast Fred Meyer, Reed and Hertig, Safeway, Van Dusen Beverages, Laurelwood Designs and Astoria Florist.

"We had a lot of help," McDaniel said.

Members on hand provided tours and informed guests about center activities.

Carl Peterson, a longtime Astoria resident and a five-year member of the center, extolled the virtues of the center's pool tables.

"I'm a pool shark," he quipped.

The Astoria Senior Center has approximately 400 members, each paying an annual membership fee of $12.

"It's the best deal in town," said McDaniel.

Senior Center hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Programs, outings and activities are available, but that, according to Fisher, isn't what makes the center special.

"The best thing we offer is companionship," she said.


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