Teams of volunteers are at work preparing the 43rd annual Thanksgiving Community Feast organized by Saugatuck Congregational Church, which features a traditional holiday dinner of turkey with the traditional trimmings -- and bountiful community spirit.
The Westport holiday tradition, hosted by the Saugatuck congregation since its inception, will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, at the Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church hall, 55 Myrtle Ave.
It marks the third year that the dinner has been served at Christ & Holy Trinity, which offered it a home after a devastating fire on Nov. 20, 2011, destroyed part of the Saugatuck complex. Repairs to the fire-damaged church, located on Post Road East, are getting underway.
"We are under construction and broke ground officially in September," said the Rev. Alison Buttrick Patton of Saugatuck church. She said the construction should be completed by the end of next year. "Since the fire we have been actively working with the insurance company and architect to design a new space," she said.
She said that this year, in addition to hosting the dinner, the Episcopal church -- along with Temple Israel and the Unitarian Church of Westport, with join with Saugatuck in co-sponsoring the event.
"This will really amplify the fact that this is a community event," she said. "More than 100 volunteers will cook and serve." The effort includes dozens of turkeys that are prepared, sealed and roasted by volunteers in their own ovens, she said.
"Actually, that's a cool part of the feast," she said, adding the cooked turkeys just keep arriving all day for the feast.
"We also have a head chef who prepares all the side dishes," she added.
Patton said the Thanksgiving feast initially was established for "gentlemen who were homeless."
Over the years, it expanded not only to provide the homeless with holiday meals, but for those who "are alone or at loose ends."
Now anyone in the community who wants to can come for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and company, she said. Last year, they served 400 people.
And for those physically unable to make it to the church hall, dinners will be delivered.
Although the Thanksgiving event is in the works, Patton said the venue for this year's Christmas Feast, similar to the Thanksgiving event, is "still up in the air."
It had also been held at the Episcopal church for the last two years, but Patton said that church is not to host it again this year.
"We haven't declared it cancelled," she said. "We are still working on it and we believe we have a venue," she said. "Stay tuned for details."
For those who need a ride to the Thanksgiving Community Feast or would like to have a meal delivered, call Marcia Harrington at Saugatuck Congregational Church at 203-227-1261.