A free meal and entertainment on Thanksgiving

Volunteers at Westgate Chapel in Edmonds plan to do a lot of juggling and laughing next week.

They plan to serve Thanksgiving meals to about 1,300 people. The feasts will be topped with lots of laughs.

The dinners will be served at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday at 22901 Edmonds Way, Edmonds.

Along with the roast turkey, the Edmonds church has asked comedian and juggler Dana Tison to entertain. Tison plans to juggle all sorts of objects — axes, knives, mashed potatoes — often while unicycling and to the tune of his own shenanigans, which he said he’s orchestrated into "a masterpiece of theater."

Last year, more than 1,350 people came to the free Thanksgiving dinners, said Claire Murphy, a member of the Thanksgiving outreach team.

The church expects at least that many people this year.

"We prepare our traditional Thanksgiving dinner here in our kitchen," Murphy said. "Dinners are served family-style at decorated tables. We serve roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, rolls and pumpkin pie."

By the numbers, that means 76 turkeys, 2,000 rolls, 160 pumpkin pies and 80 pounds of butter, 100 pounds of onions, 200 pounds of potatoes and many tubs of whipped cream. The meals are prepared in Westgate Chapel’s commercial kitchen.

And it takes an army to orchestrate all that food and merriment. About 500 people work together to plan, shop, stir, chop and serve the meals each year. The 2,000-member church has been hosting the annual tradition for 13 years.

The volunteer team also includes roughly a dozen drivers who provide transportation for anyone who needs a ride to the dinners.

The diverse church also has people who can translate a number of languages, including Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Mandarin Chinese, Korean and Pilipino.

And just in case the juggling isn’t enough, the first 150 children at the 11 a.m. seating will have a chance to win a new Nintendo Wii System. At each meal, volunteers plan drawings for $50 Toys "R" Us gift certificates, as well as to hand out prizes.

The event also includes family photo sessions, children’s crafts and gifts and a food and clothing bank.

Free holiday dinners

Free Thanksgiving dinners are planned for 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Westgate Chapel, 22901 Edmonds Way, Edmonds.

For more information, call 425-775-2776 or go to www.westgatechapel.com.

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