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Clayton’s Tap hosts Christmas in July

New location for Saturday’s annual fundraiser for Operation St. Nick

When the daytime high is pushing 100 degrees and the nighttime low barely dips below 80, it’s awfully hard to remember what December feels like.

But the Christmas spirit will be in full force Saturday, July 20, at Clayton’s Tap, where a Christmas in July event will take place to benefit Operation St. Nick. The event has been held for a number of years at other Morris bars, but this will be the first year at Clayton’s.

The bar has hosted other events for Operation St. Nick, but this is the first Christms in July there.

“What’s nice is that there’s something for everyone,” said Lois Durkin Darlington, owner of Clayton’s and event co-organizer with Jan Close. “This is the perfect event. You can walk in with $20 and still walk out the door with something.”

Operation St. Nick is a group that helps needy families at key times of the year, such as Christmas and back-to-school.

For the past six years, according to President Joe Schmitz, the Christmas in July event has been one of the largest funders for the back-to-school event.

“This really helps us budget,” Schmitz said. “We were able to step up our program.”

Schmitz said when the back-to-school effort first started, the organization spent about $75 per child. Now, it is able to budget $125 per child.

The $125 includes $50 of school supplies and $75 of new clothing.

“It’s really been a neat project,” Schmitz said.

The Christmas in July event itself, which runs 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, will feature a “Christmas concept” that includes grilling by Dad’s Grill and a live auction at 6:30 p.m.

Some of the auction items?

A five night trip to San Francisco, skybox seats to a to-be-determined Chicago Blackhawks game, and a football autographed by a number of great NFL runningbacks like Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers, Eric Campbell, Emmitt Smith and Adrian Peterson.

There will also be a short tribute to the late Grundy County Sheriff Terry Marketti.

“He was one of the biggest supporters of Operation St. Nick,” Darlington said.

The event will be both fun and will benefit a good cause, Darlington said. Something she believes is right up Morris residents’ alley.

“It’s such a generous community,” she said. “We constantly help others.”

“All in all, this is a great event because everyone can get involved.”

Schmitz agreed, saying the Christmas in July event is a time for the community to get together.

“The best reason to come out is becasue it helps children in Grundy County,” Schmitz said. “The second reason is it’s a fun party.

“It’s just a great time for everybody to come together.”

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