La Cygne community dinner served to hundreds
Patty Seymour, from left, Danny Bennett and Arlene McClanahan fill the plate of Rosemary Long with turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and side dishes at the La Cygne Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 19. Going through the serving line as things were slowing down, Long was organizer and a main cook for the meal. Below right, Linn Valley Community Church pastor David Van Bebber Jr., and his son, Elisha Guy, enjoyed the meal with their family. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
Hundreds of residents from the La Cygne and Linn Valley area and beyond gathered on Saturday at the La Cygne Christian Church to break bread, count their blessings, and see old friends and make new ones.
In this post-pandemic version of the La Cygne Community Thanksgiving Dinner, the food was served for in-person dining. However, takeout was available and volunteers delivered meals to those who couldn’t come to the church to eat. Everyone was invited to eat, and there was no charge.
After the 2020 dinner was cancelled because of COVID concerns, last year's dinner prepared by volunteers at the La Cygne Library, was served as takeout to about 450 people.
Event coordinator and cook Rosemary Long said that food for 500 people was prepared on Saturday, but that some of the food was left over. She said those leftovers would go the library’s senior program and out to the churches.
Cooks for the event prepared 38 turkeys, and all of the side dishes, rolls and other accompaniments were handmade from scratch, she said.
While the La Cygne Christian Church provided the sanctuary and kitchen for the dinner, other churches also contributed to the meal. In addition to monetary donations, each church was given 10 minutes to present a reflection on the dinner’s theme: A Celebration with Reflections of Gratitude.
Churches that donated to the community dinner included Calvary Baptist Church of La Cygne, La Cygne United Methodist Church, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, New Life Baptist Church and Linn Valley Community Church.
Father Barry Clayton with Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church delivers a few reflections on gratitude.
David Van Bebber Jr., pastor of the Linn Valley church, said he was grateful that the La Cygne churches had included the Linn Valley church as well.
“I thought it was cool that they invited us,” he said.
Other contributors to the meal included the La Cygne Chamber of Commerce, the City of La Cygne, Friends of the Library, Brian’s Automotive, Peoples Telecommunications, Hook ’N’ Deals, and several individuals. A jar full of cash at the serving line gave proof that many others donated as well.
Long said donations so exceeded the planned budget that as much as 40 percent of next year’s budget is taken care of.
The La Cygne Community Thanksgiving Dinner tradition began more than two decades ago when the late Arlene Ramsey gathered donations and volunteers to serve the free meal to anyone at the La Cygne Elementary School. Except for 2020, it has been served every year since.