Thanksgiving away from home |

Thanksgiving away from home

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkAndrew Griebel was visiting from Zionsville, Indiana and heard about the free Thanksgiving meal at the Blue Goose from a flyer at his hotel. He was vacationing in Colorado with his mom Diane, dad Bruce and sister Allie.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Ken Sharp and Christina Craig were planning on eating Thanksgiving dinner at a truck stop somewhere between Summit County and California, but Mother Nature had other plans.”We were coming down the pass, my brakes were smoking and I was out of hours,” Sharp explained, “so we stopped in Silverthorne and the person at the visitor’s center told us I-70 was closed (in Glenwood Canyon because of a rock slide).”

Instead of feasting on the road, the two ended up sitting at a table with a half dozen welcoming strangers, eating turkey with all the trimmings at the Rotary Club’s community dinner at the Silverthorne Pavilion.”Normally, (Thanksgiving) is a family thing for me, but I’ve been away for about a year. This is the first time I’ve celebrated (the holiday) with a bunch of people I don’t know,” Craig said.

The couple is on a cross country trek to California as part of Sharp’s job as a long-haul truck driver, so they were prepared to be away from family for the holiday.”I hardly ever make it home. Probably only once every two months,” Sharp said. “This is my first Thanksgiving as a truck driver. The food was really wonderful and the people are so nice and courteous.”Craig and Sharp planned to be back on the road by Thursday afternoon, headed for a detour on Highway 131, but they both agreed this will be a Thanksgiving to remember.

“If I’m ever in the area again, I’ll definitely stop by,” said Sharp.The free dinner was arranged by the Rotary Club, the Family and Intercultural Resource Center and the town of Silverthorne.

Lori Slota, who sits on the Rotary’s board, said she expected 250 people to show up for dinner, which was held at the Pavilion for the first time in its history. The Rotary purchased the turkey, but Colorado Mountain College’s culinary program at Keystone provided all the trimmings and prepared all the food.In Breckenridge, the Blue Moose, traditionally a breakfast restaurant, switched gears to serve a free Thanksgiving dinner, with donations benefiting the House with the Red Door, a safe environment for young people in Summit County.

Teenage cousins from Louisiana, Lacey and Lauren Peters and Kelsey and Kristen Stapleton and their parents decided to spend the holiday at the Blue Moose because they weren’t sure what to do for dinner.”This is our first time away from home. Our grandparents are eating alone,” said Lacey.

Her sister Lauren added excitedly that it was also the girls’ first time flying.The group is vacationing in Breckenridge to experience the Colorado mountains, see the snow and ski for the first time.

“I love it here, it’s real homey,” said Lacey, after proudly declaring that she only fell seven times her first time on skis.Blue Moose owner Michael Minarksi said he expected about 600 people to help gobble up 30 turkeys, which were donated by City Market, and 300 pounds of mashed potatoes, courtesy of Hearthstone Catering.Kenosha Steakhouse helped out by smoking 15 turkeys.

Ladies from St. Mary’s, St. John’s and Father Dyer churches baked dozens of pies in all different flavors.Minarksi and his wife, Traci, began serving the dinner four years ago, to help provide food for those who couldn’t be home.

“There’s a lot of kids away from their families and a lot of hungry people and this is just a great way to bring everybody together,” said Minarski.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at

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