Under Rain and Tents, And in a Parking Lot Instead of a Park, Union Station’s Thanksgiving Tradition Warms Bodies and Souls

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6:26 am | November 29, 2019


Miserably rainy weather drove Union Station Homeless Services’ Dinner in the Park out of Central Park and under tents Thanksgiving Day, perhaps making the hot meals even more welcome to the hundreds of needy who were served.

“This really cold, awful weather really shares what the people are going through,” Anne Miskey, CEO of the nonprofit, said. “Today is really about serving those who are living on our streets and have to deal with this on a day to day basis. So I love the fact that our volunteers have come out in this cold and rainy and dripping day and still they’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re here to serve,’ because it really is about serving.”

As she came in early Thursday to prepare for the event, Miskey saw people with damp blankets wrapped around them lining up for the free hot dinners that the nonprofit gives out every Thanksgiving Day.

“When it’s a sunny, beautiful day in the park, it can be easy to lose sight of the harsh reality of what it is to live on our streets,” she said. “But today, these people are coming from the streets where they’re sleeping in this pouring rain to get a hot meal.”

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and his wife Maria, as customary, joined a slimmed-down volunteer team of volunteers at the Adult Center on South Raymond Avenue to serve the meals.

“We remember the years when we used to cook one turkey for Union Station and one turkey for the family. But then the health department ended that tradition,” Tornek said, referring to a change ordered in 2013 by the City of Pasadena Public Health Department which eliminated donations of home-cooked dishes

“So this is a new tradition, and Union Station is one of those vital nonprofits in Pasadena that goes on year after year doing the things that our residents need that the city can’t necessarily provide. So I feel privileged to be able to participate with them and all their volunteers.”

This was the first time since 2012 that weather has forced a change in venue for the Pasadena tradition, a Union Station official said.