The traditional Christmas and Fondue Party of the New Helvetic Society dates back to 1978. On October 21st the very first Fondue party was hosted by Helen Phillips. 54 Members and Guests enjoyed a genuine Swiss Cheese Fondue with all the trimmings.
Willy Schwarz presented a tasty fondue in 1981, and we enjoyed original “Zuger Kirschtorte” created by our Pastry Chef Walter Bruetsch. For many years, the Christmas party was combined with a Christmas Concert that was enthusiastically arranged by Alfred Zweidler. An attendance of 80 was a regular count for many years, but we soon outgrew the capacity of nearby Church Halls and had to search for a hall that could fit about 160 people. During our search, several Fire Halls met our needs. Due to the distance between nearby churches and the selected Fire Halls, it became more difficult to combine the party with a concert. Benno Petrig responsibly created our Fondues until his departure to Switzerland in 1993. We were very fortunate to find Marshall Blum, who created our Fondue from 1993 until he moved to Tennessee in 2016. Since then, we were lucky Karl Niederer took over the task of making his Fondue Neuchateloise speciality for up to 200 guests. Marshall still comes back to support Karl and together they make a awesome team!
The party normally takes place during a Saturday afternoon in early December, but we had a few years where the winter weather did not cooperate and a postponement to the following Sunday was necessary.
The Cheese Club became an additional attraction to the Fondue event and we have sold up to 700 lbs of prime Swiss cheese per year. The Zweidler’s initially managed the cheese orders until their departure to Florida. Helen Phillips offered to organize the very popular sale and handed it over to the Hauser’s in 2007.
Of course, we cannot leave out visits from Santa. He always surprised our children who were looking forward to receive the well liked SANTA SAECKLI, masterfully created by our longtime and Life Member Vreni Ranjo, who handed the craft over to Josephine Burri and Monika Regina in 2020. We were fortunate to have Pius Buob as a member, who dressed up for many, many years as Santa until his departure to Colorado and then to Switzerland. Franz Portmann offered to “play Santa” in 2012 and handed the responsibility over to Marc Dubach in 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic forced us to cancel the party that year and all hope to see Santa in action again in year’s ahead.
Our attendance grew drastically in the last 10 years and we were forced to limit our count to 180 including children between 5-12 years of age. We found that the size of the hall is not the bottle neck, but rather stirring up enough cheese to serve all with the first load, preventing that some guests have to wait until the second load is ready to go. By that time the first served guests may already be eager to come up and ask for their second serving. The logistics behind this event are considerable.
We also had to limit our Christmas mailing to MEMBERS ONLY, and there were a few incidents where we had to turn away members or guests. The invitation normally goes out in the beginning of November and participation is on a FIRST COME basis.
It is advisable to be a member in good standing and send in your RSVP before the deadline, if you do not want to miss a popular event where we all enjoy a delicious Swiss Fondue.
A THANK-YOU goes out to all our Council Members and Volunteers, and we hope this traditional event will go on FOREVER!
RSVP for the next Fondue Party on our calendar.