Members of the Vega family say grace before eating at the 13th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Hudson's Restaurant on Thursday. Donations from the event benefit The Deep Well Project. Pictured, from left, are Alicia, Librado and Yolanda Vega, and Joan Fitzgerald.(Photo: Jay Karr/The Island Packet)
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Hundreds of people poured into Hudson's Seafood House on Thursday for the community Thanksgiving dinner that has become a tradition among patrons and volunteers alike.
Restaurant staff had been cooking for days, and final preparations began at 6 a.m. Thursday.
Doors opened at 11 a.m., but some found their Black Friday spirit early and formed a line at 8:30. By noon, that line stretched out the door and around the corner. Dozens of hungry people, some in jeans, others sporting their Sunday best, waited to be served by about 430 volunteers.
One of those helping out, Bev Ohemeng, said she moved to the area without family. But after working at the dinner for more than a decade, the restaurant's hectic kitchen and the volunteers around her almost feel like home.
"It's sort of my Thanksgiving family," Ohemeng said, on a short break from loading sliced ham and turkey onto platters. "A couple years ago I went home and had Thanksgiving with my sister, and I missed everybody here."
The meal was served family style, with groups of strangers at the same table sharing food and fellowship.
Many seemed to enjoy the serendipitous conversation.
"We just love the idea of the community getting together. I think it's wonderful," said Barb Turnbull, a part-time resident from Illinois. "You meet a lot of good people."
Hudson's general manager Andrew Carmines said he loves the idea of residents from all walks of life -- rich and poor -- breaking bread across the Thanksgiving dinner table.
"It's just cool," he said. "And we have a lot of fun doing it. It's different than what we do on a day-to-day basis."
The dinner was organized by St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Donations benefit The Deep Well Project, but LaCoe said the amount collected is not yet known.
Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.