Starting a Tahoe tradition: Volunteers needed for inaugural Thanksgiving potluck

Linda J. Bottjer
Special to the Sun

KINGS BEACH, Calif. and#8212; More than five centuries and close to 3,000 miles separate the potluck Thanksgiving dinner held by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag American Indians and the one happening in Kings Beach next Thursday.

This year heralds the inaugural community-wide celebration at the North Tahoe Event Center. Itand#8217;s free to attend and eat, regardless if a participant can bring food to share or not.

and#8220;This is more than just feeding many people,and#8221; said organizer Meera Beser. and#8220;It is about feeding the soul.and#8221;

Having the Norman Rockwell version of a home and hearth holiday dinner is not a picture everyone can possess, Beser said. Some have no family, while others, such as local college students, might be too far from home to travel for some green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and a drumstick or two.

Whether one is lonely or hungry, homeless or just wanting to make new friends, all are welcome.

The idea of holding such an event began in the 1980s when Beser, a long-time North Shore resident, first heard of similar events held in Monterey and Grass Valley.

Like the original meal in Massachusetts, a variety of foods widely familiar and those served as ethnic favorites at family meals will be available. A sign-up list for everything from vegetables to desserts can be found on the eventand#8217;s blog.

Many committed local organizations, secular and religious, will combine resources with large and small businesses, Beser said. Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, St. Francis and Assumption Catholic Church and the North Lake Tahoe Hebrew Congregation are a few.

Big corporations such as Safeway and Raleys will provide food, in addition to many others.

The cornucopia of edible donations will cause taste bud juices to flow with ribs from Jasonand#8217;s Beachside Grille and Las Panchitasand#8217; carne asada (thinly grilled pieces of beef) and Tacos Jaliscoand#8217;s potato salad. All three eateries can be found in Kings Beach.

Project MANA, a local hunger relief agency, will donate the main entree and#8212; turkey. Some of the birdand#8217;s vegetable accompaniment will be supplied by Bonanza Produce.

And what meal does not taste, and look better, when served atop real China from a linen covered table? Lanzaand#8217;s Restaurant in Kings Beach will supply all the necessary tableware and linens. The donation will aid in reducing the garbage generated at such events.

and#8220;We want to make this as zero waste as possible,and#8221; Beser said.

Like any party where multiple ages and interests come together, Beser assured there will be music and entertainment. Part of it will be a separate section where children can be entertained; having bilingual and multicultural games and songs will help engage everyone, she said.

Just like any family dinner, guests will be asked to do something like set a table or cut the pies. Volunteers from Boy Scouts, ROTC members and senior citizen groups will help serve; however, more are needed to cook and clean and act as kitchen runners in addition to tossing salads, opening cans or even boiling water. A decorating party will be held Wednesday, Nov. 23.

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