Triple twenties came up last week at McDonald's in Soldotna, and all those who stopped by the Golden Arches between 11:00am and 4:00pm shared the jackpot. It was Saturday September 20th that McDonald's in Soldotna marked its 20th Anniversary since opening on the Kenai Peninsula. In appreciation for the last two decades of patronage, owners Scott & Deena Cunningham offered 20-cent burgers for five hours, and if you got fries with that burger, the Cunningham's donated 20 cents to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula.
"My husband and I both started with McDonald's when we were 16, as teenagers we needed money to pay our car insurance, that's where we met and it's the only job we've ever had and McDonald's is part of our blood, it's great and it's great being a part of a wonderful community like Soldotna," said Cunningham recalling her beginnings at the Golden Arches. The Cunningham's bought the Peninsula McDonald's from Don and Sharon Moock in 1994, but it was Bill Pargeter who opened the doors of the first store in Soldotna in August of 1983. The Anniversary celebration seems to have broken all local records for burgers sold in a 5-hour period, "Everyone was going non-stop and half way through we started counting down the hours," said Deena, who had a double work crew of 22 employees out for the special shift. When four o'clock finally came, the McDonald's crew had served 5,808 burgers, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula tallied up a $153.20 donation from the fries. Then when Soldotna City Councilwoman Jane Stein read an official Mayoral Proclamation, she personally added another $50 dollars to the fries-pool, bringing the grand total to $253.20 for the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Many community officials and leaders gathered for the celebration and were on hand to view the unveiling of the new Paul Gebhardt Iditarod art wall. McDonald's is a proud sponsor of Paul & Evy Gebhardt's Iditarod racing team and the wall at the Soldotna store now features memorabilia of the team's successes. Also honored at the double decade celebration with McDonald's Service Awards were 20-year bookkeeper Sherry Spence, 16-year employee Ione Roberts, and 13-year employee Tracey Deitz.
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