Boxes were lined up, ready to be filled with take-out containers of food; diners gathered, sitting down to enjoy some socializing as the smells of roasted turkey wafted through the Escalon Community Center.
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27 featured the hosting of the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the local community center, open to all free of charge.
This year, the crew at Mr. Haynes BBQ Catering stepped up to take on the project, cooking the meal and coordinating the service on Thursday. Volunteer workers were the waiters and waitresses, taking down orders and delivering the hot plates of food, making up salad plates and serving up dessert.
Another volunteer crew – including several Escalon High School varsity football players – was on hand to take home-delivered meals to residents who could not get out to the community center to share in the feast. Many of the delivered meals included an extra container for another meal later on, and delivery drivers were also asked to spend a few minutes with each recipient, visiting and sharing the spirit of the holiday season.
“We had about 120 deliveries and take out, and with the diners who ate there, we had about 200 total,” coordinator Kim Rigg said of serving the Thanksgiving dinner.
Going strong for more than a dozen years, the dinner is backed by the Escalon Ministerial Association and is open to everyone in the community. Mr. Haynes BBQ Catering put on a full meal, with turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, rolls, green beans, beverages and pumpkin pie for dessert.
Rigg said the effort was very smooth, with diners happy with the meal and the volunteers able to quickly make the home deliveries, especially with the small army of football players doing some community service.
Other residents stopped by the community center to get meals to take home themselves, and all were treated to the traditional holiday feast.
Diners Bob and Dorothy Girling, longtime Escalon residents, were on hand to enjoy the meal and offered compliments to the chef(s) for a job well done. Newcomers to Escalon, Adam and Rachel Morris, recently moved here from Big Bear Lake and were thoroughly enjoying the holiday introduction to the community, Rachel working on her dinner while Adam strummed a guitar he brought with him.
Young volunteers Colton Bryan and Leah Wheeler, both 10, came with their families to help out wherever needed.
“I like doing the whipped cream,” Colton said as he applied a spritz of the topping to a piece of pumpkin pie.
Rigg said the event was once again a success and she also praised the participation of Mr. Haynes BBQ Catering, coming in to help out to make sure the dinner went on as scheduled.
“It seems like less than usual,” Rigg said of the total number served this year, “but we’re glad we could help the ones who attended.”