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Chinook's 2018 Community Dinner set for Thanksgiving Day on the 22nd


October 3, 2018

Betty and Mark Billmayer headed up their first Community Thanksgiving last year. The Billmayers are back to head the annual holiday dinner for a second year aided this year by Kathy O’Brien and Jay Eslick. Organizers are reaching out again this year for homemade pies—with fruit pies being the choice among most locals. This year’s dinner will be served at the Chinook Senior Center from 12 Noon to 1:30 pm.

The exact year of when the community dinner was first offered has been lost over time. Most agree it was in the 1980’s, first held at the Presbyterian Church and moved to the Chinook Senior Center when it was completed in 1983.

The dinner is a longstanding tradition closing in on its 40th anniversary. Over the years the number of diners has stayed fairly consistent and financial support has remained generous and adequate. It’s one of the first community get togethers that kicks off each winter holiday season.

While this year’s menu is not totally set, it will follow the traditional menu served over the years with turkey and trimmings including dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, buns and a relish tray. All this followed by pie, lots of pies. There are several regular financial supporters and many diners also make a contribution though no one is asked to pay for the dinner. Volunteers do the ‘heavy lifting’ to make the dinner happen.

Summing up last year’s community dinner, Jay Eslick, one of the regulars who helps organize the dinner, said, “We put out the word for pies and we count on about 25 being donated.” There was plenty of turkey and the trimmings, but Eslick noted one slight error on the part of planners. He said, “We didn’t plan on the popularity of sweet potatoes. We bought 19 institutional-sized cans and prepared them all, still we ran out of sweet potatoes.” Eslick added, “Generous amounts of butter and brown sugar may have made the ‘sweet’ potatoes a crowd pleaser.”

Over the years the number of diners and requests for deliveries remains fairly constant. In 2017 about 120 dined at the center and 45+ meals were delivered to homes. Volunteers help prepare the food, bring the homemade pies and deliver meals (you can sign up ahead for a take-out or home delivery by calling the senior center at 357-2527).

When asked how their first year of heading up the community dinner went, Betty and Mark Billmayer, Betty said, “It went very smoothly. We had lots of good help.”

The “Journal” thanks those who helped in so many ways to keep this great Thanksgiving tradition going.


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