Community turkey dinner gets 'A-plus' from diners

Many attended after a day of skiing to enjoy a good meal, visit with friends, meet new people

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Under sunny skies Thursday afternoon, Steamboat residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds ambled in to the community center for a free Thanksgiving meal.

Diners met a full spread with mounds of turkey, dressing, stuffing and all the fixings, along with a table covered with desserts.

For some, the variety meant a chance to try something new. First-timer Chris Masse said he usually stays away from yams, but this year he tried some and enjoyed them.

"The food was an A-plus," he said.

He ate with friends Ryan Thompson, who planned to join friends for another meal later in the day, and Monty Holder, who's a regular at the community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Holder said he comes because the meal provides a chance to catch up with friends and, since he's a seasonal worker and winter has just started, it is an economical way to have a holiday meal.

"It's early season; I'm broke. I don't get paid until tomorrow," he said.

The friends spent the morning skiing and then came to the community center.

Brother and sister Cliff and Candace Garnett also stopped by to eat after a morning of skiing.

"I wasn't going to cook. I was up on the mountain all day," Candace Garnett said.

Last year, the siblings went out to eat, which Candace said was expensive. Since their home is in Iowa -- too far for a weekend trip -- the community dinner offered a fun, friendly atmosphere, she said.

For Steve Rudolph, the dinner was something of a homecoming. Rudolph was born in Steamboat, moved around and came back to live for a few years in the mid-1970s, then moved back again just a few weeks ago.

He and his father came because they enjoy meeting new people and catching up with old friends.

The food, Rudolph said, also was great. He expected five or six dishes, but there were closer to a dozen to choose from, he said.

Randy and Sue Oehme stopped by with their 3-year-old son, Jason. Sue Oehme said she's donated food for the meal for a few years, but this was the first time she and her family came to eat.

"It was really after 9/11," she said when asked when she started bringing a dish to donate. "I just felt like I needed to do something."

Sue Oehme has brought a large tub of corn pudding, a family favorite, each year since. Eating at the community center this year was a fun, she said, and meant the family could spend the morning watching the parade and playing in the snow. Her son enjoyed the macaroni and cheese and olives.

Rebecca Pauvert, the chef at Hazie's Restaurant, carved turkeys in the back along with several other restaurant managers and chefs from Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. restaurants.

Many of the Ski Corp. volunteers have been coming for half a dozen years, but for Pauvert, it was a first.

"It's wonderful. I'm going to do it again next year," she said.

Cheryl Antalek of Vectra Bank helped organize the dinner. She came and brought her family along. Her son, Brian, washed dishes, and her other son planned to come later on in the day to eat.

"It's a lot more rewarding to be involved," Antalek said.

Her son Brian, 17, agreed. Although he'd rather be skiing, he said he knew someone had to help with the work.

Tiraje Hasenfuss, 59, came with her husband. The couple lives in Denver but stay at their condominium in Steamboat whenever they can.

"We don't have anybody here. It's just him and me," she said pointing to her husband. "So it's wonderful to be with people here."

The trays and trays of homemade dishes were all tasty, she said, but most importantly, everyone who came to eat felt welcome.

"There shouldn't be any hungry person in Steamboat with this place here," Hasenfuss said.

"They should just come here and be with other people and be thankful for it. We have so much to be thankful for."

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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