Pair of community Thanksgiving meals planned in San Juan County on holiday

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — San Juan County residents looking to avoid the hassle of preparing a holiday dinner for themselves but who are still interested in feasting will have two free alternatives this year, as Thanksgiving meals are planned in Farmington and Aztec.

The Aztec Senior Community Center, 101 Park Ave., will offer its Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 2 p.m. on the holiday. Kitchen supervisor Connie Hutcheson said after two years of her organization offering holiday meals on a drive-thru basis because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the center will return to a dine-in celebration this year.

Hutcheson acknowledged that eating a traditional holiday meal from a to-go container is not the same as being able to sit down with other folks and enjoy a hot meal and good company.

“No, it’s not, and the seniors have been all looking forward to it,” she said.

Hutcheson is expecting 400 people to attend the Aztec dinner, a significant increase over the 300 drive-thru and delivered meals that were served during Thanksgiving last year.

“We’re looking at maybe quite a few more with the economy,” she said.

James Reyer, left, Susan Rarick and Connie Hutcheson prepare holiday meals to go in the kitchen at the Aztec Senior Community Center on Dec. 25, 2020. After two years of serving its holiday meals in a drive-thru fashion, Hutcheson says this year's Thanksgiving meal will be a dine-in affair.

Anyone who can’t make to the senior community center in person can arrange for someone to pick up a to-go meal for them or call 505-334-2881 to have a meal delivered to them.

Hutcheson said she is trying to arrange to have live music at the event, and a photo station will be set up so that visitors can commemorate the occasion with a snapshot.

A group of six to seven people will be responsible for preparing and serving the meal, she said, although delivery drivers are being sought. Hutcheson said several donors have stepped up and provided essential items, including one man who donated 10 turkeys and 10 pumpkin pies. A local florist donated centerpieces for the tables, and Aztec Mayor Michael Padilla and members of the Aztec City Commission all made substantial contributions last week, she said. Additionally, Wonderbread donated 400 rolls for the event.

“We are so enthusiastic about this,” she said.

Meal planned in Farmington as well

The Salvation Army Thanksgiving Lunch planned for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the holiday will return to its traditional home at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St., this year after being held at the Sycamore Park Community Center last year.

Lt. Christopher Rockwell of the Salvation Army’s Farmington operation said the organization is expecting to feed more than 600 people this year, and it will be offering to-go boxes for those who can’t get to the event themselves.

A crew of 40 to 50 people will help stage the event, he said, but anyone who would like to volunteer is encouraged to call 505-327-5117.

No live entertainment is planned at the event, but Rockwell said everyone is welcome to attend.

“Just good food, good fellowship and pastoral care,” he said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 Support local journalism with a digital subscription: