Every year for decades now, my hometown has celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a city-wide community dinner. Over a hundred people volunteer for all the preparation, serving, and clean-up work, which takes weeks. Hundreds of citizens from our own town and from several surrounding communities converge on our civic center that day and celebrate together, expressing gratitude for each other and for all of the blessings we’ve experienced during the year.
We generally have a continental breakfast for those who like to start early. We have a big dinner with all the traditional Thanksgiving elements from 11:00-2:00. That dinner period includes easy-listening and Christmas music by one of our favorite local singers, and many people get up and dance. There are big screen TV’s for watching football and/or movies, and there are numerous board/table games (and games for kids) for anyone who wants to spend the day. Then about 5:00 the left-overs from dinner — as well as some extras like pizza and finger foods — get set out for supper.
Volunteers deliver mid-day dinners to anyone who is home bound and cannot get to the civic center to participate, and to local police officers, fire-fighters, and store clerks who have to work that day. When all is finished, any left-over food goes to local nursing homes.
All of the food (including over 1300 pounds of turkey), supplies, decorations, and equipment are donated by local businesses, churches, civic groups, and individuals, and every year more people want to be involved. The coordinator of the dinner, who is a dear friend of mine, is licensed in food preparation and safety, and he takes his responsibility very seriously.
For several years I covered the event for the local newspaper. Some years I interviewed as many as 40 and 50 people, many of whom had some wonderful stories to tell about how much the event means to them. It’s a community treasure, and in an age when so much is done in this world out of selfishness and greed, I’m proud of my community for still focusing it’s time, energy, and resources on appreciating the value of community and togetherness.
The short video below shares just a very few photos of the fun involved.