Community dinners serve all in Summit |

Community dinners serve all in Summit

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

The pilgrims had free Thanksgiving dinner, and so does Summit County.

In fact, Summit County has two free Thanksgiving community dinners this year. The Rotary Club of Summit County will host its annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner from noon to 3 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion, and several area churches, businesses and organizations will sponsor a separate community dinner at the Red, White and Blue Fire Station in Breckenridge from 1-5:30 p.m.

Each group expects around 400 people to show up, meaning at least 800 free traditional Thanksgiving dinners will be served on Thursday in Summit County. Both events have been around for better than a decade, and they started with a similar purpose.

“There are so many people working here who don’t have family around,” said Breckenridge dinner organizer Sally Peel. “Our hope is that rather than spending Thanksgiving alone, they will join us.”

Rotary dinner organizer Wendy Myers said the Rotary’s event started for much the same reason.

“(Ski resort workers) are the lifeblood of the ski areas, and the ski areas are the lifeblood of the county, so it’s very important to get them fed and make them feel like they’re part of the county,” she said.

Local Rotarians made financial contributions to fund the dinner, and staff from the Keystone Conference Center will cook the food and provide some of the side dishes. The Silverthorne Pavilion donated the space for the event.

A staggering amount of food will be served by Rotarians, who volunteer to set up, serve and clean up after the meal. Sixteen turkeys totaling 300 collective pounds will be served along with 220 pounds of mashed potatoes, 50 pounds of stuffing, 60 pounds of green beans and 40 pumpkin pies. And this is one dinner where less leftovers are a good thing.

“We ran out of food right at the end last year, so hopefully it will work out perfect this year, too,” Myers said.

The Breckenridge dinner has bounced around to several locations in recent years, including St. John’s Episcopal Church in Breckenridge. The event is sponsored by a combination of local churches, synagogues, restaurants and businesses.

“It’s taken on different forms over the years, but the purpose has always been the same,” said Peel.

The two dinners may seem like conflicting events, but Peel said the events don’t compete with each other because they are on opposite sides of the community. And with low temperatures and a snow storm blowing into Summit County, location may be even more important.

“I’d imagine most people won’t want to travel far, so they’ll probably go to whichever one’s closest to home,” Peel said.

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