PLATTSBURGH — Thursday’s warm temperatures prompted people to mill in the parking lot outside the Plattsburgh Elks Lodge 621.
Inside, people feasted at the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Envoy Frank Smith was so exhausted an hour into the three-hour serving window, he didn’t know how he was going to make it until the end.
“We fed a little more than 400 people last year,” Smith said. “Now, we’ve had a little more than 200 people. They’re still coming in.”
A groaning dessert table topped with pies, brownies, cookies and cake greeted each person as they walked into the dining room, where tables were draped in white cloths and accented with autumnal-hued place mats and napkins.
Diners had a lake view as they chowed down on turkey, ham with raisin sauce, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, yams, squash, corn, cranberry sauce and dinner rolls.
Smith and his wife, Envoy Sue Smith, started the logistics for this day in October. The Salvation Army received contributions from Hannaford, Lake Champlain Turkey Talkers, Momot Elementary School, Hood, Pray’s Farmer’s Market, Doucette Potato Farm, Pepsi and individual donors and volunteers.
Salvation Army head cook Marj Minkler, Elks chef Mike Ryan and volunteers started this day at 5 a.m.
“We need a bigger building,” said Brad Polhemus, the lodge’s exalted ruler.
“It really blows me away how many people gather to do this,” Smith said.
Elks member Marvin Benton dined with two volunteers.
“I’m thankful the Salvation Army puts this on, and we get so many young volunteers to come in and help out. It’s great to see,” Benton said.
One of his anonymous dining partners was thankful for her family, grandchildren and the opportunity to volunteer.
“I love doing this kind of thing,” she said. “I really don’t want the publicity for it.”