GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - Gadsden’s big, annual CommUnity Thanksgiving has been canceled for this year due to concerns for COVID-19.
The event last year attracted 6,600 diners for a free Thanksgiving meal that included turkey and dressing.
The Thanksgiving Day tradition in Gadsden would’ve been holding its 21st such dinner.
It began at Gadsden Convention Hall and shifted over to The Venue when the newer city auditorium opened two years ago.
But organizers, including the 23-member committee that oversees the event, said they couldn’t work it out to be safe from COVID-19 for the diners or the volunteers.
In fact, they had trouble getting some of the volunteers this year who put in time for the annual event. Sports teams from area schools often took part in serving the meals, but one of the organizers, Craig Scott, said this year many of the schools requested the student athletes not take part for safety reasons.
They weren’t even able to work out a delivery-only format.
“With the more than 6,000 people we feed, and the more than 1,100 volunteers who come to work,” organizer Darlene Harcrow says, “it was just not going to be safe. And even though they take out that food, we come in and go out, even with taking that food out, the dangers of if a volunteer came in and was sick, could we live with ourselves if somebody got sick from that? It’s just not worth that risk.”
“Our committee really wrestled with this,” says committee member Craig Scott. “We went back and forth on it. All of us wanted to do it, it would’ve been our 21st in a row. It was not taken lightly.”
All is not lost, however.
The committee is working with area churches to hold smaller events, most of which will be takeout and delivery only. Harcrow says the First Baptist Church of Glencoe will have eat-in facilities under tents.