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Thousands gather to give thanks

Tom Tack, a retired U.S. Navy captain, volunteers for the celebration. - K.C. Pohtilla / Whidbey News-Times
Tom Tack, a retired U.S. Navy captain, volunteers for the celebration.
— image credit: K.C. Pohtilla / Whidbey News-Times

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with a few thousand neighbors?

That’s what throngs of North Whidbey people thought when they decided to take advantage of the Community Harvest Celebration held Thursday at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge.

Scott Fraser, owner of Frasers Gourmet Hideaway who helps prepare food for the dinner each year, said around 4,000 people ate dinner last year and that number could be eclipsed this year.

“I’ve got a feeling we’re going to hit that mark if not top it,” Fraser said.

Folks enjoyed a nice spread at the Elks Lodge. Volunteers smoked 30 turkeys, roasted 30 turkeys and deep fried an additional 140. There was also the usual Thanksgiving dishes — stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries.

Islanders have several options to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. In addition to the Community Harvest Celebration, Coupeville held a Thanksgiving potluck at the Coupeville Recreation Hall. People working or shut-in in Oak Harbor called volunteers from Whidbey Cruzers’ to have a plate of food delivered.

Oak Harbor’s celebration went from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. By 1 p.m., the building was packed full of people and the line stretched out the door of the main room at the Elks Lodge.

Fraser pointed out the number of volunteers who helped make the event possible. Approximately 380 people signed up to volunteer and an additional 50 people showed up Thursday to chip in.

Fraser said the kitchen staffs from his restaurant, as well as Flyers and several culinary students from Oak Harbor High School’s Wildcat Catering were just some of the volunteers preparing dinner.

“Oak Harbor should be so very proud of something like this,” Fraser said. “It’s a great feeling to be part of it.”

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