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Teen Challenge offering festive Christmas at Roberts Lane drive-thru

Along with many popular returning events, this Bakersfield holiday season has some new options. The tastiest might be Christmas at Roberts Lane, which kicks off Friday with a drive-thru of entertainment, lights and delicious snacks.

Teen Challenge Director Michael Salinas said the idea came from their recent experience during the pandemic.

"We started doing these curbside events because we couldn't do any in-person community outreach. We did about four of them in 2020 — fair food and spring eats — and they were really successful."

When the organization found out CALM would again hold the drive-thru version of HolidayLights, which can't accommodate what Teen Challenge traditionally offered for concessions, it decided to hold its own drive-thru on its Oildale campus.

"We said, 'Let's do a drive-thru, decorate our campus.' Everybody is doing lights — CALM and Christmas Town — so we'll also have our Teen Challenge choir singing Christmas carols."

Salinas said they kept the menu small and simple to be able to meet demand and regroup between event weekends, which run through Jan. 2.

"Dumplings and kettle corn are our most popular items, so we have those for sure. Then we're keeping it Christmas-themed with tamales, salsa and churro doughnuts."

The menu is designed to accommodate individuals or groups. 

Homemade apple or peach dumplings ($8) are available in packs of three ($20) or six ($40). Churro doughnuts with dulce de leche dipping sauce ($3) can also be purchased in packs ($8 for three, $16 for six). Kettle corn comes in mini ($5) or regular ($10) bags while salsa is sold in a 16-ounce decorative Mason jar.

Coffee, cocoa and soft drinks ($3 each) will also be sold.

Tamales, with a choice of traditional pork or cheese and jalapeño, are available by the half-dozen ($12) or dozen ($20), and are served with salsa.

"Our tamales are homemade," Salinas said Wednesday. "Students and staff are, as we speak, rolling those now."

With about 100 dozen ready to go, Salinas said they are ready for this opening weekend.

The event will also feature inflatables, including a Nativity in front of the campus, and light displays, with an illuminated tunnel that people will drive through.

Along with providing fun for the community, this event helps those enrolled in the Teen Challenge's faith-based drug and alcohol recovery program.

"The morale is really high for our students," Salinas said. "This gets their minds off of being in a program. Students are very aware they're not with their family, not with their kids. This gets their minds off it and raises funds to keep the doors open."

All proceeds will go to the program, which is offered free to those in need.

"They just have to be willing to change," Salinas said.

The nonprofit hopes to raise $50,000 from the event, which will take place over six weekends.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.