Community Thanksgiving graphic

While some people may still be fast asleep around 3 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, the Knights of Peter Claver will be starting to put together side dishes at Founders Hall on Opelousas Street in preparation to kick off the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church's 22nd annual Thanksgiving Dinner — and what a day it promises to be.

Beginning at 9 a.m. guests will be entertained while they await their smoked turkey meal with music from the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s; and from 10-11 a.m. games of bingo will be held as the smells of all of the traditional Thanksgiving feast dishes waft through the hall.

"It's just good to be there," said Herman Guidry, co-chairman of the Knights of Peter Claver, and one of the people who started the dinner tradition 22 years ago.

"We'll be playing some Fats Domino, some Elvis Presley, Ray Charles," he said. "And everyone loves bingo."

With dinner being served at 11:15 a.m., the fun doesn't stop with the last slice of pumpkin pie.

The group holds another bingo session 2:15-3:30 p.m. for those who would like to stay and make a day of it.

Twenty-two years ago the group put together about 147 meals. This year, Guidry said, 600 meals are expected to be prepared, with many of them being hand delivered by a member of the Knights of Peter Claver to shut-ins across the city.

In its heyday, Guidry said the group had produced more than 1,200 meals and provided hundreds to church groups in the outlying areas of Jennings, Welsh and DeQuincy.

"We don't have to do as many meals now that so many other church groups and organizations have started their own dinners," he said.

Working solely with food donated by members of the church and the Peter Claver family, about six to eight people will work to smoke turkeys beginning Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, the smoked turkeys will be carved and placed into a refrigerated truck donated by a member each year for the week.

"It's a pretty nice thing," Guidry said. "It's a God-given thing and we have fun doing it, so come pass a good time."

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