Community shares bountiful banquet as Thanksgiving feast returns to Saugatuck Church
It was a homecoming with the trimmings Thursday as the annual Thanksgiving Day community feast traditionally hosted by Saugatuck Congregational Church returned home after four years.
After being forced to move from the historic church when it was hit by a devastating fire just before Thanksgiving of 2011, organizers of the dinner were thrilled to make use of the new commercial-quality kitchen and refurbished Hoskins Hall for the first holiday feast since the reconstruction was completed earlier this year.
“Of course we’re delighted to be honoring the feast back at Saugatuck Church,” said the Rev. Alison Patton. “This is a first for me since I came in right after the fire.”
“You could call this our inaugural feast in our new space, but with all the same energy and dedication that has characterized this feast since its inception,” she said, noting that it was done in partnership with Temple Israel Synagogue, Unitarian Church of Westport and United Methodist Church.
“It’s just a wonderful event in the community,” said Elliott Fisher of Westport, who came with five friends this year. “It’s a celebration of people getting together.”
Celebrating its 45th year, the crowd was served a bountiful banquet of 40 turkeys, 50 pounds of sweet potatoes, 150 pounds of regular potatoes, 120 pounds of green beans and much more. Donations from about a dozen organizations throughout the community help complete the menu, and more than 100 volunteers do everything from serving, cooking, cleanup and delivering meals to those who can’t get the event.
“It’s a chance to give back,” said Robert Mitchell, chairman of the gathering. “It’s a chance to do something for other people. I get a pleasure out of doing the service, plus it’s a lot of fun.”
He said around 300 people were served by the end of the day.
“It’s a little tough because it’s a shakedown cruise,” he said of this year’s dinner, but everything turned out fine in the end. “The space is different and it’s a little different than it was before, but it’s exciting.”
The Rev. John Morehouse, the newly appointed minister at the Unitarian Church, was on hand to help with the turkey blessing.
“I’m finding this entire community spirit in Westport to be infectious and thrilling,” he said. “I’ve been with several congregations across the country and I’ve never run into this kind of affair.”
“It’s really an honor to be here,” he said.