Melissa Taylor is quick to talk turkey.
She's thinking 150 pounds of bird should feed everyone at the free Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Solon Springs Community Center. Add 80 pounds of sweet potatoes, 18 pounds of canned corn, a spread of donated desserts and pumpkin pie. The buffet-style meal will also include mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, relishes, pistachio salad, rolls, coffee, soda, milk and more.
This will be the 11th year Taylor has held the Solon Cares Free Thanksgiving Dinner. Even though a record crowd of about 225 showed up last year, it appears to be a bit of a secret.
"I've talked to people this year. It's amazing. The consensus is still the same, a lot of people don't know about it," the Solon Springs woman said.
She's spreading the word that everyone is welcome, and that the building is handicapped-accessible. Volunteers will be available to help people enter the building and get food, if needed.
"We will wait on you hand and foot," Taylor said.
People can also take a to-go box with them for their neighbors.
With no Packers game to compete with and no blizzard predicted, Taylor expects to welcome a big crowd.
"Last year was the biggest turnout, the biggest variety of people," of all ages, she said, including people they wouldn't have expected to see.
The meal is more than food. It's a time to socialize.
"You get your mix of people sitting at the table," Taylor said, some who may not otherwise have said hello to each other. "And they're sitting there laughing and joking and I love it."
Community support keeps the Thanksgiving event cooking, from a case of stuffing from a man known only as Dean and volunteers who help serve and cook to monetary and food donations from the community. Not just the Solon Springs community, Taylor said.
Monday will be the last shopping day for Taylor and Wednesday will be one marathon cooking session. It's a big project, but she wouldn't change a thing.
"I don't know how to describe it," Taylor said. "When I'm in the kitching and I look out, the feeling, the sights, the smiles and the laughter and people eating or people walking to the dessert table or someone rubbing their belly, it's all of it."
"I will do this until I can no longer do it," Taylor said. "I love it."
Free Thanksgiving feasts
• The Solon Cares Free Thanksgiving Meal is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Solon Springs Community Center.
• Faith United Methodist Church in Superior hosts a free community dinner at noon in the church fellowship hall, 1531 Hughitt Ave. Everyone is welcome.
• The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center hosts a free dinner from noon to 3 p.m. at 305 Harbor View Parkway in Superior. Seating is limited. Call 715-392-7151 to sign up.
• The 29th annual Twin Ports Thanksgiving Buffet will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.Homebound residents in the Duluth, Superior, Two Harbors and Cloquet can call 218-723-6484 for home meal delivery. Requests must be received by Friday, Nov. 16.
Free transportation to the DECC will be provided by the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA). The DTA's Thanksgiving holiday service will feature two special shuttles, Turkey Bus 1 and 2, which will transport passengers directly to the DECC from selected sites in the Twin Ports. In Superior, the shuttles will operate from the Royalton Manor, North 14th Street and Tower Avenue, Clifford Lund Residence and Solid Rock Mission.
The event will also feature a children's craft corner, books for kids and a visit from Santa.
Monetary donations are welcome to support the Buffet. Send to: The College of St.
Scholastica, attention: Thanksgiving Buffet, 1200 Kenwood Ave., Duluth, MN 55811.