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Roy Sanders, financial secretary for the Knights of Peter Claver 141, said they served about 500 people around noon, but they planned to serve more than 1,000 people. He said he has served Thanksgiving dinners there for about 25 years. (Frank DiCesare / Special to the American Press)<br>

Roy Sanders, financial secretary for the Knights of Peter Claver 141, said they served about 500 people around noon, but they planned to serve more than 1,000 people. He said he has served Thanksgiving dinners there for about 25 years. (Frank DiCesare / Special to the American Press)

Food, fellowship and fun at Thanksgiving events in Lake Area

Last Modified: Thursday, November 22, 2012 8:19 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Thousands of local residents took advantage of the free Thanksgiving dinners served at several locations throughout the area.

William Arceneaux, who chairs the Maplewood-Hollywood Lions Club, said more than 1,000 people showed up at the Sulphur Parks and Recreation Center to get a meal. The Lions Club has provided Thanksgiving meals for nearly two decades.

“We anticipated 800 people, but exceeded that,” he said. “There’s definitely new faces this year. There were a lot more ‘to-go’ plates given out this year.”

Arceneaux said the crowd included some elderly people who either weren’t able to cook or did not want to be alone for the holiday.

Nearly 100 people volunteered to prepare and serve the meals, and local residents provided various desserts, Arceneaux said.

One of those volunteers was Elizabeth Medwick, leader of the Girl Scouts of Louisiana Pines to the Gulf Troop 2375. Medwick said the troop baked 400 cookies, and that seven girl scouts volunteered their holiday to provide meals for the community.

“The energy here is awesome,” she said.

Medwick said she understands not being able to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, especially when her husband lost his job two years ago.

“To know there is a place to feed your children with a warm dinner is important,” she said. “You know you’re not alone. It’s comforting that this community comes together in such a big way to provide fellowship.

Sulphur residents Annette Shroll and her husband, Raymond Spencer, have eaten Thanksgiving dinner at SPAR for nearly five years. She said they like experiencing the holidays in town because most of her family is out of state.

“We come because we like the fellowship,” he said. “It’s kind of like an extended family. You run into people you know and catch up with old friends. It seems like it happens every year.”

Shroll, 56, said they brought a dessert called “duck cake,” which includes ingredients like pineapple, cherry pie filling, coconut and cinnamon.

Pearl Cole, executive director of Abraham’s Tent, said they fed just over 150 people during the day. She said people in the community provided most of the food.

“We had a great day,” she said. “We had a great group of volunteers who make a habit of coming every year and others who were calling us asking to help out.”

Cole said they received more than 100 turkeys this week, courtesy of Camp Out for a Cause, an event organized by KYKZ 96.1 FM radio station to collect food for the dinner.

Roy Sanders, financial secretary for the Knights of Peter Claver 141, said they served about 500 people around noon, but they planned to serve more than 1,000 people. He said he has served Thanksgiving dinners there for about 25 years.

“It just makes me feel happy,” he said.

In addition to feeding people at the Opelousas Street facility, Sanders said they deliver meals to families of five or more and to disabled people.

“That’s one thing I’ve always tried to do is help people who can’t help themselves,” he said. “Some of these people can’t get out of their homes.”

Shroll said the experience reminds her of being a child and enjoying home-cooked Thanksgiving food.

“Whoever made the cornbread dressing, it was the best I’ve had,” she said. “It reminds me of my mom’s.”

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