Published : Tuesday, November 20, 2018 | 6:04 AM
Even the threat of rain Thursday – now increased to a 40 percent by the National Weather Service – can’t dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of volunteers working hard to prepare one of Pasadena’s beloved annual traditions, offering a free Thanksgiving Day meal to those in need at “Dinner in the Park.”
Volunteer chefs are embarking on a two-day roasting, basting, and baking blitz as they work with Union Station Homeless Services to prepare their annual feast for a couple thousand of their neighbors in need.
The organization has worked to make sure no one goes without a traditional turkey dinner and good company to share it with on Thanksgiving for more than four decades.
Through community donations and partnerships, volunteers will serve up well over 100 turkeys and 300 pies between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Central Park, Union Station Director of Special Programs Stephanie Harris said.
“We’re expecting around 2,000 to 2,500 meals to be served,” she said.
And for dessert “We’re planning to serve around 300 pies,” she added.
With the homeless population increasing in recent years, more food donations for the Dinner In The Park event would still be a big help, Harris said.
Prior to Thanksgiving, store-bought pies and other food donations can be dropped off at the facility at 412 S. Raymond Ave.
“We’ll be happy to receive food donations on the day of the event,” Harris added. “We’ll have a food drop-off station setup on Fair Oaks (Ave.)”
Homemade items cannot be accepted due to public health regulations. A list of needed items is available on Union Station’s website.
Union Station CEO Anne Miskey said the city has embraced the endeavor and helped make it a success for so many years.
“We have such huge community support at this event, both in terms of volunteers coming out the day of, as well as people supporting by providing food and items,” she said.
But it’s a big job. “Obviously, we can always use more support,” Miskey said.
The National Weather Service predicts a strong chance of rain Wednesday night, continuing through to Thursday morning. But forecast expect the skies to begin clearing by late morning on Thanksgiving Day.
Either way, dinner will be served.
“Everything is going to be under a tent, so it shouldn’t be a problem, rain or shine,” Miskey said.
Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and State Senator Anthony Portantino, D-Glendale, are among those expected to attend, Harris said.
A wide array of people from throughout the Pasadena community come together each year to make the massive meal possible, Harris explained.
Pasadena Convention Center Executive Chef Brandon Barousse and his staff will lead the all-important turkey preparation, she said.
The Morongo Band of Indians and SuperValu donated the bulk of the birds, Harris said.
Other significant donors include United Agencies in Pasadena, Vallarta Supermarkets, Super King Markets, and many private donors.