Community Thanksgiving draws big crowd of big eaters

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BRATTLEBORO — For the third year in a row, Kaci Viado has helped organize the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

"It's absolute craziness," she said Thursday inside the gymnasium of St. Michael's Catholic School, where the 47th event was being held. "It's really wonderful to give back to the community and I enjoy meeting people."

At that point in the interview, most of the seats at the tables were filled by people of all ages and Viado was interrupted. She was introduced to someone who would join what she called the "army of amazing volunteers."

"Everything's been going super well," Viado said. "It's so successful, it's hard to keep up with the demand."

She said "way more food" will be needed next year. She encourages anyone who has suggestions or wants to help plan the next dinner to email bratt.thanksgiving@gmail.com.

Viado said 16 hams and about 32 turkeys had been cooked. She said 125 pounds of butternut squash, 100 pounds of potatoes, 100 pounds of carrots, 50 pounds of beets and 30 pounds of rutabagas were prepared.

As for pies, 51 had been donated.

"It's a lot," Viado said but noted that tends to be right around the average number of pies each year.

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She said 120 meals were delivered to people who could not make it to the event.

Viado credited Gretchen Hardy, co-owner of The Porch in Brattleboro, with helping to plan out timing so all the food would be hot and ready to go as it came out in waves.

"We wouldn't have been able to do this without her," she said.

Viado said organizers usually plan to prepare to feed about 600 people. About two hours in, she wondered if more attendees came out this year or "things just went really quickly."

By Viado's count, about 200 volunteers had been involved in the event. They helped prepare for the event, deliver meals, cook, serve food and clean dishes.

This marked Claire Diorio's first time volunteering at the dinner. She said her ex-husband has helped for 28 years and her four children have joined him at different times.

"So it's a complete circle and family affair," she said, serving roasted root vegetables. "And I'm loving it."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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