OGDENSBURG — Bill Taylor started working on his Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday. An early start is required when you are planning to feed nearly 800 people.
Mr. Taylor has been a part of the Ogdensburg Knights of Columbus Thanksgiving dinner for 22 of the 26 years it has been offered.
On Thursday morning, while a team of volunteers was busy slicing up 90 of the expected 100 pies, Tim Winter, the Knights’ financial secretary, was behind the bar taking phone calls. At 10 a.m. they had 606 orders for delivery or pick up. Mr. Taylor expected about 100 people to eat at the clubhouse. Last year, they ended up serving 770 meals and there is every reason to believe they will be close to that number this year.
The menu differs from the traditional dinner served in dining rooms across the country only in size.
Mr. Taylor and his volunteers, at the end of the day, will have dished out 450 to 500 pounds of turkey, 250 to 300 pounds of squash, 300 to 350 pounds of potatoes, 225 to 275 pounds of stuffing, 800 dinner rolls and 100 pies.
Because of so many food donations — the pies all came from volunteers — the massive dinner costs about $3,000 to put on.
Donations are down a bit this year, but a successful golf tournament over the summer is making up the difference, Mr. Taylor said.
The bar in the clubhouse was lined with Styrofoam clamshell serving containers, each with a name and an address written on the top and waiting to be filled as people arrive or drivers get ready to deliver. About 40 volunteer drivers will fan out across the city delivering more than 300 dinners while carrying only six to eight orders apiece to ensure the meals are warm when they arrive at their destination.
It’s the volunteers who make it happen, Mr. Taylor said while expressing gratitude to the drivers and cooks and pie slicers and people assigned to the numerous tasks required for a successful operation.
Mary McDonald has been volunteering for more than 15 years.
“I love it all,” she said of each task she is assigned.
She was slicing pies early in the morning but will be dishing out either potatoes or squash on the packing line, depending on which serving spoon her line partner Bishop Terry R. LaValley takes charge of.
Mr. Taylor counts on dinner being served and the clubhouse cleaned up by 3 p.m. because he needs to get to his daughter’s house by 4 p.m. for his family’s Thanksgiving. And then, he needs to start thinking about Christmas dinner, which the Knights will likely be serving for the second year running.
“I’m 99 percent sure we will be doing it,” he said before turning his attention to the hundreds of meals ready to be served.