Giving thanks, Steamboat style

Hundreds gather for annual Thanksgiving meal

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— A feast to feed a community was spread on one long table as eager Steamboat Springs residents lined up some for the second and third time to get helpings of probably the largest dinner served in Steamboat on Thanksgiving Day.

The Thanksgiving Community Dinner, sponsored by Routt County United Way and LIFT-UP, was another big success Thursday. There was enough food to feed more than 300 people, and a it's easy to estimate that's how many people packed the Steamboat Springs Community Center for the feast.

Hungry people with a holiday spirit piled their plates with food and sat together. Young and old, longtime locals and new residents, cordially chatted while eating the home-cooked food.

"This is just a great way to spend Thanksgiving," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Executive Chef Liz Wahl said. "It's like the first Thanksgiving. It's supposed to be the whole community."

Wahl and a crew of Ski Corp. chefs come each year to present and serve the food. They make sure there's always enough food on the table, carve the turkeys and see that the presentation is nice.

About 50 people volunteer to serve food, clean or cook a dish in their home for the meal, which was free to all who wanted to come.

The selection was as good as anyone's mother could have come up with stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, bread, salad and pie.

And don't forget the turkey. Businesses and residents donated 18 birds for the feast to ensure there was enough to go around.

"I wasn't quite sure what to expect," said Eric Barnes, who had a plate heaped with Thanksgiving helpings. "But I am definitely impressed."

"And the music playing in the background," Barnes' friend Jacob LaPlant interjected, motioning to musicians playing songs while people ate, "it's just awesome. I didn't expect it to be like this."

Routt County United Way Executive Director Millie Beall organized a big part of the dinner. With a broad smile, she was busy clearing plates and talking to community members.

"It's wonderful," she said. "It's just fabulous. I have great volunteers : it's just wonderful."

She said some people just showed up to help, such as musician Randy Kelley, appearing with his fiddle and mandolin to play along with Johnny Harris on banjo.

"This is the only way to spend Thanksgiving," Glenda Wiggins said. "It is truly wonderful."

Wiggins was serving food with her husband, Gary.

"It's just great to be around such a happy atmosphere," he said.

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