What became a local tradition began as response to a simple challenge.
Bruce Duerkop was going to be alone for Thanksgiving Day 1992, so instead he headed to a gathering organized by a Twin Cities mission group. He later talked about the experience with his pastor.
"Why doesn't Red Wing have something like this?" Duerkop recalls asking him. "There are a lot of people who are alone and would like to do something with others."
The pastor replied, "Do something about it."
First United Methodist Church did something about it, serving its first community Thanksgiving Day meal in 1993. Duerkop took the lead and fellow members donated all the food, prepared it and then served the meal. Perhaps everyone was a little surprised when approximately 145 people showed up.
The Thanksgiving meal grew into a community event with volunteers from throughout the region over the years serving upwards of 300 meals. Individuals, couples and families come.
This is a traditional, made-from-scratch dinner. On average, volunteers may serve more than 200 pounds of turkey, 100 pounds of potatoes, several dozen squash, numerous pumpkin pies, homemade gravy, several pounds of homemade stuffing as well as other traditional Thanksgiving meal fixings.
"Over the last three Thanksgivings, the Red Wing First United Methodist Church Men's Cooking group has provided additional leadership for this event and desires to continue to offer to anyone who may be without a family gathering an opportunity for fellowship and a good old traditional Thanksgiving meal," parishioner and cooking group member Don Featherstone said.
This year's Thanksgiving meal will begin at 11:30 a.m. and volunteers expect they will continue serving until approximately 1 p.m.
People will gather in the Wesley Fellowship Hall dining room. Seatings will be staggered as needed, and meal serving numbers will be available at the entrance to the church, 403 East Ave. Reservations can be made by calling the church office at 651-388-3262.
There is no charge for the meal, yet donations will be accepted.
Volunteers are welcome to assist with the meal prep beginning at 2 p.m. today, Nov. 22, Featherstone said, and assistance is always welcome for serving and cleanup following the meal on Thursday, Nov. 23.