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Peppermint hot cocoa, Oreo cheesecakes among Holiday Favorites winners

Dear Shirley,

You meet the most interesting people at Christmas parties. Take, for instance, the Holiday Favorites Cook Off sponsored by Special Olympics North Dakota and the Grand Forks Park District.

It was held Monday night in Santa Village at Lincoln Golf Course Clubhouse. Never has there been a more festive scene, with dozens of decorated trees and a couple dozen holiday foods.

Among the people I met were Chris and Donna Smith. He is an investigator for Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department for the past 16 years. And he helps as keeper of the flame for Special Olympics -- the torch that signals the opening of games. He was selected to attend the World Games in Greece in June. He was one of five who carried torches around Greece.

That's not all, Shirley. This guy has created himself into a character called Captain Cannonball for the annual Special Olympics event here. It makes me shiver to think of it, but he will be diving into a tub of cold water in March.

The Holiday Favorites cook off was engineered by Katie Allen, director of special projects for North Dakota. Kathy Meagher, is president and CEO for Special Olympics of North Dakota with headquarters here in Grand Forks.

In case you are wondering, Shirley, the winners were:

_ Dave Dunham for his Spicy Garlic Thyme Shrimp in the Best Hors D'oeuvre category, and they will featured for a week at Toasted Frog.

_ Oreo cheesecakes by Lucy Dunham won the Best Dessert category to be featured at Sanders 1907 during the week of Valentine's Day.

_ Teresa Dahlstrom was first in the Best Beverage category with peppermint hot cocoa. It will be featured at the Coffee Company on a date to be announced.

Then there were two overall winners. They were Dottie and Jackie Nelson with a cranberry pudding that will be featured for a week by O For Heaven's Cakes and Diane Mathiason with her Candy Cane Holiday bread to be featured at Dakota Harvest with dates to be announced.

Usually, when people hold events they never get around to following up. Not so with this Special Olympics North Dakota. And money raised from the winning recipes will go to help Special Olympics.

I think you should tell the snowbirds to come home. We have no snow. I know Santa comes by helicopter to Tucson, and he may have to use the same one to get into Grand Forks.

I guess you have tamales for Christmas in Arizona. Lefse making is all the rage around here because of the Norwegian background of so many.

I hope you are enjoying the season, and I send my love from the west bank of the Red River of the North. Your sister, Marilyn

P.S. My Christmas Carol's 57th birthday would have been Saturday. It's still hard to realize that Lou Gehrig's disease took her from us Dec. 2. My heart is heavy, but I am grateful to so many readers and friends who have sent cards to say they understand and care. At a time like this, you need other people to lean on.

Reach Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.