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Ronan welcomes all to 9th Thanksgiving dinner

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RONAN — Every child knows the story of the Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down together and feasting for three straight days during the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in 1621. 

Now, nearly 400 years later, the tradition lives on as friends and family gather every year to eat good food and celebrate good fortune over the past 12 months. 

For the past nine years, Cheri Houle has helped organize Ronan’s annual community Thanksgiving dinner. Held at the Ronan Community Center and organized by the Ronan Chamber of Commerce, the event is free to the public and run entirely by volunteers. 

“I truly believe that Thanksgiving and being thankful is part of a community effort,” Houle said. “I’m thankful for my family, and extremely thankful for my community and that it provides me such a wonderful place to live.”

Houle said the event averages about 350 guests every year and is staffed by an average of 75 volunteers. Planning for the event begins in early October and requires quite a bit of work from many event organizers, but Houle said she doesn’t mind the work. 

“I must admit, it is an undertaking,” she said, “But I certainly do enjoy the day. People come out that I haven’t seen in forever, and it’s wonderful.”

All food and funding for the event is donated from local farmers and businesses. This year, Ronan’s community Thanksgiving dinner will have 12 turkeys, 100 pounds of potatoes and at least 50 pies. Community members and local bands will provide entertainment throughout the dinner, and the entire event is free. 

“It’s a fabulous event,” Houle said. 

Houle insisted that this was not an event specifically geared toward any part of the population. Rather, the dinner is a way to bring the community together, see old friends, and strengthen bonds and relationships with good food, good music, and a welcoming atmosphere. 

“We do, of course, want people who do not have a place to go or have food on that day to come, but it’s more of a community event to bring people together,” Houle said. “In other words, we do not target one particular group — we just want the whole community to come.”

The ninth annual Ronan Community Thanksgiving Dinner will take place Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Houle said donations in the form of food are more than welcome, and as the event is run by volunteers, more are always needed. 

Anyone interested in donating goods or food should call Cheri Houle at (406) 249-3184. Anyone interested in donating time should call Brennin Grainey at (406) 676-4600.

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