Summit County community thankful to gather again on Thanksgiving
After a year of celebrating thanks with takeout boxes and limited gatherings, the Summit County community celebrated Thanksgiving together this year.
The Rotary Club of Summit County hosted its annual Thanksgiving meal, providing the classic turkey dinner and Thanksgiving sides at the Silverthorne Pavilion.
Rotarian Bee Jeanson said Rotary has provided Thanksgiving dinner to the community for over 20 years and that she is grateful to be able to do so. She said the dinner feeds anyone from visitors up for the holidays to residents who simply don’t want to cook.
“I think the best part is that if you look around, you’ll see people from all walks of life,” Jeanson said about the community dinner.
Jeanson said Rotarian and Silverthorne Town Council member Mike Spry purchased and donated 37 turkeys for the event, and Keystone Resort chef Stefan Smith prepared them along with a variety of sides, providing what Jeanson called a “top-of-the-line meal.” The town of Silverthorne also provided the space free of charge for the holiday, and Rotary provided drinks, plates and flatware.
Barbara Slater — who just moved back to Summit County to retire and got to town the day before the holiday — said it was comforting to get together and meet new folks in the community.
“This is wonderful, and I really appreciate the nice family feeling,” Slater said. “The food is great, but I’m glad for the company.”
Rotarian Don Parsons volunteered Thanksgiving Day for the dinner and said it wouldn’t be possible without the help of other partners involved in the event, which he said encapsulates everything Rotary is about: building and serving the community.
“It’s just our way of giving back to the community,” Parsons said. “… It’s wonderful to eat a feast, but it’s even better to feed a feast.”
Last year throughout the pandemic, Rotary continued hosting its weekly community dinners at the Elks Lodge in a takeout format and did the same on Thanksgiving. Parsons said it just wasn’t the same. He said if all the volunteers weren’t wearing masks at the dinner this year, everyone would be greeted by the smiling faces of people who are happy to be back.
“Families want to sit down together,” Parsons said. “A lot of these tables are just filled with big families sitting together. We have an opportunity for people to — at least one day a year — sit down and say thanks for all the things they have as a family.”
Summit County resident Carmen Arellano came to the community dinner with her whole family after being unable to gather for the holidays last year. She said the food was incredible.
“We’ve had some pretty hard times recently, so it was a good distraction to be able to get together and talk and let everything out,” Arellano said. “I’m very grateful for everything that the community has to offer — especially right now — because when you fall on hard times, it’s a good reminder that one’s not alone.”
Jordi Martinez and Christopher Herr, international students studying in Oklahoma and traveling through Summit County, stopped by to get a first look at a classic American holiday.
“It’s really nice that you have this opportunity with everybody coming in and eating together, meeting other people and everything,” said Herr, who is from Germany.
Martinez, who is from Spain, said he knew he wanted to have a Thanksgiving dinner while in America for the holiday and learned about the community dinner from the Summit Daily News. He said they had some great conversations with locals at the event and enjoyed the food.
“We’re not American, so it’s been a great opportunity for us to experience the Thanksgiving holiday not having a family here or anything,” Martinez said.
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