Summit County celebrates Thanksgiving with two free community dinners |

Summit County celebrates Thanksgiving with two free community dinners

Alli Langley
Katherine Jeter, 76, of Frisco, serves green bean cassarole to Julien Ekeholm, 16, of Breckenridge, at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant and Cantina on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. For the last three years, the restaurant has hosted a free Thanksgiving meal organized by Breckenridge churches and restaurants. The annual meal was spearheaded by St. Johns Episcopal Church about 10 years ago. Organizers said they planned to serve between 600 and 700 people Thursday.
Alli Langley / |

On two ends of Summit County, volunteers served up hundreds of free plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and pie.

The Rotary Club of Summit County hosted its annual Thanksgiving lunch Thursday, Nov. 27, at the Silverthorne Pavilion, a tradition organizer Wendy Myers said goes back at least 15 years.

This year Rotarians bought 23 18- to 20-pound turkeys, she said, and the Keystone Conference Center cooked them up and prepared all the fixings. Myers expected volunteers, including Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt, to dish out meals to about 450 people.

In Breckenridge, organizers anticipated even more residents and visitors would show up to a similar event at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant and Cantina.

Co-coordinator Maggie Ducayet said the free Thanksgiving dinner started 10 years ago by St. Johns Episcopal Church. Now the event is hosted by three Breckenridge churches and serves between 600 and 700 people.

At least 150 volunteers and more than 20 restaurants participate,and Mi Casa pays some of its staff to work in the kitchen.

The event attracts working families and young people as well as visiting skiers, Ducayet said, and the free meals aren’t about whether or not people can afford Thanksgiving dinner.

“It’s much more about building community,” she said. “It’s much more about saying, ‘Come out and be part of our community with a meal.’”

She’s glad the restaurant’s seating arrangements encourage strangers to sit down together and get to know each other.

“Everybody has the Thanksgiving spirit, like let’s share,” she said. “It’s kind of contagious.”

Eaters often give donations, Ducayet said, which typically pay for the next year’s event. In 2013, the event collected about $1,500.

At the end of the day, she added, volunteers always fill boxes with meals and take them to everyone working downtown on the holiday.

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