Whether the pilgrims celebrated the original Thanksgiving in November, December, or even, heaven forbid, as early as October, is really of no consequence today.
Despite what myths and legends surround the holiday – is it celebrated on the third, fourth, or last Thursday in November – what matters is folks will be flocking to the community’s traditional holiday feasts offered free to one and all.
No myth, maybe a legend, but bounteous good food for everyone. Holiday stalwart Maria Ferreras, Salvation Army advisory board member, said this will be an exciting year.
"We found the need is exploding on St. Thomas. We served about 400 last year, and Captain Edwin Velez says we’re expecting anywhere up to 500 this year," she said.
The Salvation Army has served the traditional meal for the past 23 years at its headquarters on lower Main Street, a block east of Market Square. The dinner – from noon to 2 p.m. – is free to anyone with a hankering for turkey.
Ferreras added, "We serve about 120 meals on a normal day from Monday to Friday, but the Thanksgiving meal is special. It’s not just for the homeless at all. People from all walks of life come to share with one another, elderly folk who may not have anyone at home. We’re anticipating the highest number this year, what with the current economy."
She said Cherly Rink of attorney Tom Bolt’s office has been her right hand in the month of preparation.
"Or maybe I’ve been hers," Ferreras said with a laugh. "You have no idea of the organization involved. Who is cooking the potatoes, the deserts? We have wonderful volunteers each year, too. Right now, we are having 30 turkeys cooked at Frenchman’s Reef and the Ritz-Carlton for us."
And there’s more.
Volunteers from the Caribe Tradewinds Lodge 589 and Pearls of the V.I. 585 start serving their Thanksgiving treats at 11 a.m. at Ulla Muller Elementary School, and they invite the community to share with them.
And where would the holiday be without the Penn-Scipio family’s annual feast at Emancipation Garden where mounds upon mounds of nourishment are dished up by a small army of volunteers. Turkeys, hams, baked chicken, kingfish in sauce, potato stuffing, macaroni and cheese, gravies, bright vegetables, broccoli carrots, salads, soups, noodles, desserts and more are served by a small army of volunteers. It’s a family tradition.
In addition, Bethlehem House Shelter for the Homeless, run by Catholic Charities of the V.I., will serve its meal on Saturday this year. A spokesperson said there are so many meals on Thanksgiving Day that serving a hot meal on Saturday would be a better option. The shelter is located in Hospital Ground.