"We all come as a family after church, and to support cancer research, basically," said Horst, who said her mother, brother and two sisters were among the hundreds of people filling the bustling Ramada Inn Grand Ballroom on Sunday. "The kids enjoy it - as you can tell - they're all away somewhere."
This year's children's entertainment included several magicians, a balloon twister, face painting and visits with Santa Claus, his reindeer and snowman friends.
Musical entertainment consisted of jazzy holiday favorites performed by the Easy Listenin' Orchestra and piano selections by Alan Mason.
In its ninth year, the brunch was designed to be an affordable family event, with lower ticket prices for children and entertainment for all ages, said event chairman Jim Shifler, president of the American Cancer Society's Washington County unit.
This year children's tickets were $6, compared to $20 for adults, Shifler said.
"So many things are just for adults," Shifler said.
The brunch has grown from about 500 people when it began to more than 840 people this year, he said. It was a healthy gain over last year's event, which drew about 750 people, Shifler said.
Consequently, the event should yield a nice increase over last year, when about $16,000 was raised, said Cinda Showalter, regional director for the American Cancer Society.
In addition to ticket sales, revenue producers included a silent auction, a raffle and advertising sales for the event's program, Showalter said.
Proceeds will go into the local unit's coffers to educate school children and the general public about cancer prevention, risk reduction and early detection; to fund support services for cancer patients and their families; and to support cancer research, she said.
For the past three years, the brunch also has served as an opportunity to "lift up and showcase a special volunteer," Showalter said.
This year's honoree, Dr. Harold H. Gist, a retired Hagerstown obstetrician/gynecologist, was chosen because of his longtime, dedicated service to the local American Cancer Society unit, she said.
Gist has served on the board of directors since 1986 and has been both president and vice president.
As a doctor, Gist said he felt naturally drawn to the cause because of the problem cancer poses to the medical community.
Cancer is still the second-leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease, he said.
Gist said it's been interesting to witness the strides made in fighting cancer since the early days of his career, when he found his hands tied in helping people diagnosed with cancer.
"They've made a lot of progress, but they still have a long way to go," he said.
Experiences with cancer in their families have made cancer research a cause near to their hearts, said brunch regulars John and Carolyn Poffenberger of Smithsburg.
"We understand the need for research, and we understand the need for this type of fund-raiser," said Carolyn Poffenberger.
The brunch is more than just a way to support a worthy cause, however, she said.
It provides a unique opportunity to eat excellent food, enjoy a live orchestra and see old friends and neighbors, Poffenberger said.
"We look forward to it. It kind of kicks off the whole season," she said.