Feast for all | SteamboatToday.com

Feast for all

United Way and LIFT-UP sponsor community Thanksgiving dinner

Kelly Silva

— The Lincoln Park Community Center bustled with hungry locals and tourists Thursday as the annual Thanksgiving dinner gathered an estimated 300 people.

The Montgomery family from Fort Worth, Texas, appreciated a Steamboat Springs style Thanksgiving Thursday with all the stuffing, turkey and sweet potatoes they could muster.

For the past five years the Montgomery’s choose a different resort town to celebrate Thanksgiving. They’ve been to Winter Park, Colo., and New Mexico. This year, it just happened to be Steamboat.

“We had some friends that came with us so we couldn’t back out,” Leon Montgomery said. “We just said, ‘Why not Steamboat?’ There just happens to be more snow.”

While the skies begin to dump Steamboat’s champagne powder throughout the weekend, the Montgomery’s will be on their way home after their weeklong stay.

Round tables filled with 20-something-year-olds to 80-something-year-olds gobbled down donated turkeys, stuffing and mashed potatoes at the annual Routt County United Way and LIFT-UP Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.

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Clients of Horizons, senior citizens and Colorado Mountain College students united with newfound friends as the clouds hung low over the Yampa Valley.

Christine and Neill Redfern never saw their friends that were supposed to visit Steamboat for Thanksgiving. Instead, they found a calling to help out during other people’s time of need and volunteered to work a two-hour shift at the community dinner.

Grace Dubendorf said she’s lived here for six years and this is the first Thanksgiving dinner where she has volunteered.

“This is a generous community. It’s infectious,” Dubendorf said.

Dubendorf attends the senior luncheon during the week and wanted to help this Thanksgiving.

“I’ll go to my family dinner after this,” Dubendork said.

Millie Beall, United Way executive director, said she had to turn off the phone and shoo people away who wanted to volunteer.

“I turned away dozens of phone calls. People just said, ‘I love it and I’m coming down.’ This is where they want to be, so what can I do?” Beall said.

Although Beall said she’s missing precious time with her family, she had a good morning and said she hoped to be home by 7 p.m.

Pat Zabel, food organizer from LIFT-UP, said typically Routt County United Way organizes the volunteers and LIFT-UP organizes the food.

“We are attempting to feed about 300 people,” Zabel said.

Although last year’s Thanksgiving dinner at the community center served about 250, Zabel said the volunteers expected more people this year because of the unhealthy economy, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a handful of other reasons.

Locals Lupita, Tom, Stephen and Christina Hathaway decided they didn’t want to cook this Thanksgiving and thought joining in on the party would be a perfect way to celebrate.

“We have no other family in town and we felt like joining the bigger family here,” Lupita said.

Beall said last year they asked for 23 of everything but because so much food was left over, this year’s magic number is 18.

“We already have about 21 turkeys coming. People are just saying, ‘I’m just bringing mine down,'” Beall said.

Zabel served a traditional Thanksgiving meal with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, a variety of pies and Jell-O salad.

“Everyone is invited. This is not just for poor people but the community people that are here with no family or no one to spend Thanksgiving with,” Zabel said.

All the food arrived between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday cooked and ready to serve.