Community Thanksgiving tradition gets new look but is planned to continue |

Community Thanksgiving tradition gets new look but is planned to continue

Former Snow Bowl employee and now volunteer Sean Hengstler helps chef Pete List create a meal as part of the Family Bowl meals program earlier this summer. Both men will be working hard next week as they take a leading role in the new format of Steamboat's long-running Community Thanksgiving Dinner. (File photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s not the gathering the community has come to expect, but once again, Steamboat Springs will come together to provide a Thanksgiving meal to those who need it.

“When we’re able to meet in person, it is all about community,” said Kate Nowak, executive director of Routt County United Way, which organizes the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. “Strangers sit at the same table and talk. It’s all about being together in the warm fuzzy of Thanksgiving.”

But Nowak realized in August this year’s dinner was going to be different. She reached out to Snow Bowl and chef Pete List, who was running the Family Bowl meal program, to get his thoughts. Together, the two started planning the first-ever drive-thru Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which is being sponsored by Mountain Valley Bank.

“I feel so humbled because the community has really come together for this,” Nowak said. “We are partnering with Snow Bowl and a host of restaurants that have donated food and help. The food must come from a commercial kitchen.”

Nowak said she normally has 175 volunteers who serve the food that is provided by more than 200 different community members.

“We can’t do any of that this year with COVID,” Nowak said. “This year, we are preparing 500 meals that will be picked up on Thanksgiving Day. We’ll serve those meals until they’re out, and when we run out, we are out.”

If you go


What: Community Thanksgiving Dinner

When: 1 to 5 p.m.Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26

Where: Snow Bowl Steamboat, 2090 Snow Bowl Plaza

Cost: Free, but donations are accepted




Nowak said she was impressed with the way Snow Bowl had stepped up to provide meals to people in need in the early days of the pandemic, so she looked to them for help when brainstorming ways to keep the Community Thanksgiving Dinner alive.

“The Routt County United Way always holds their Thanksgiving community dinner in the community center,” said Meryl Meranski, who is with Western Centers that owns Snow Bowl. “It’s just not possible this year because of COVID, so they reached out to us to help them implement it because we had so much success with Family Bowl.”

In the early months of the pandemic, Snow Bowl provided nearly 20,000 meals to those who needed it in a drive-thru format at the business located on the west side of Steamboat Springs.

“I’ve always been a proponent of giving back, so I’m always willing to do what I can,” List said. “This year, I think it’s more important than it was previously. It’s also good for me as well because it keeps my head and myself a little grounded — It keeps me pointed in a good direction.”

List plans to start preparing for the day Tuesday, and he will have the support of former co-workers Sean Hengstler and Jon-Claude “JC” Stevens.

Nowak said many other local businesses and restaurants have chipped in to help, including the Steve Green Company, How Ya Doin Pizza N Eatz, Back Door Grill, O’Neil’s Tavern & Grill, Rex’s Family of Restaurants, Steamboat Resort, UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, Winona’s, Bred Bakery and Ore House at the Pine Grove.

“Our menu is roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, rolls and pie,” Nowak said. “Everything is going to be homemade.

“I think it’s all about community and caring for community,” Nowak added. “This is one way that we can do it, by making sure that people get a good hot meal on Thanksgiving.”

She said people can stop by the Snow Bowl from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to pick up meals. She said people are asked to stay in their cars and wear masks.

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