Preparations for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner are once again underway, according to Maplewood-Sulphur Lions Club dinner chairman William Arceneaux.
This will be the eighth year Arceneaux has overseen the event which is set for Thursday, November 24, at the at the Sulphur Parks and Recreation Aquatic Center, 933 West Parish Road in Sulphur.
The Community Thanksgiving began in 1985 and, for most of the years since, it had been held at the Maplewood Hollywood Lions Club on Maplewood Drive. But about six years ago it outgrew the clubhouse and moved to its current location at SPAR. This year the Maplewood Hollywood Club joined forces with the Sulphur Lions Club to become the Maplewood-Sulphur Lions Club.
This year, guests are invited to arrive at about 10 a.m. with a prayer service set for 10:15 a.m. Volunteers will begin serving food at 10:30 a.m. The annual Bingo is set to kick off at noon and run until 2 p.m.
Turkeys are injected on the Tuesday before. Arceneaux said volunteers are invited to help inject the turkeys at the Lions Club on Maplewood Drive at 4:30 p.m. November 22. He said it takes about an hour and a half to inject between 60 and 80 turkeys. The turkeys are then boxed for transport to SPAR.
He said that beginning at 5:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, the legs of the turkeys are tied and the birds begin hitting the grease. The frying is overseen by Jody and Richard Cole.
At about 8 a.m., turkey carving and ham slicing begins and food is hauled into the gym. Most of the prep is done between 9 a.m.-10 a.m. The majority of the meal is cooked that morning at SPAR with exception of the cornbread dressing for about 600, which is prepared offsite by Marilyn Dawdy. The meal includes fried turkey, ham, rice dressing, cornbread dressing, green beans, corn and a dessert.
Various civic organizations, churches and schools contribute the food, and donations come from the community. The total cost for the event is around $4,500. It comes out to about $3.75 per meal.
For those looking to help, Arceneaux recommends showing up around 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving day. We try to find something for everyone to do,” he said. “We always get an outpouring of support from our community. The community turns out for this in a big way.”
Arceneaux also said the community has traditionally helped out by providing desserts and that is another way to help this year. They are also still accepting cash donations.
Last year there were 1,200 meals served, packaged to go, or delivered. Arceneaux said that none of the food goes to waste. Leftovers are taken to the Open Door Bikers Church in Sulphur and the City of Refuge in Vinton.
The event is free and open to everyone.
For more information, call the Lions Club at 625-2516.