RACINE, Wisconsin (CBS 58) – If you ask Ray Stibeck, he thought the Thanksgiving idea he and friend Dan Johnson came up with over a decade ago might last a year or two. 12 years later it’s stronger than ever.
“When we started, we didn’t expect to be here 12 years later,” said Stibeck. “Dan and I are joking, ‘Maybe we won’t do it this year.’ People won’t let that happen. “
Stibeck owns the Route 20 bar and restaurant. Johnson owns Danny’s Meats and Catering.
Together, the two created a Racine tradition that year after year brings thousands of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and more to enjoy for free.
“We were the guys who started it, but to be honest, the community accepted it,” explained Stibeck. “They show up every year; volunteers, donations, it really becomes the church’s Thanksgiving.”
In addition to offering a Thanksgiving meal for those in the community who are in search of it, the event also gives those who want to give back the opportunity to do so.
“It’s a great opportunity to give back,” said Jeff Hollow, a freshman volunteer. “Especially at this time of year. You know, a lot of people need help and it’s great to help them. “
Ray Yocco is back in its tenth year and proud to be part of the tradition.
“The joy of helping, the camaraderie; you come back to the people you’ve worked with over the years and it’s like coming home,” said Yocco. “Racine can be proud and have a positive impact on what we do.”
As for the future of the event, Stibeck says it is strong as he and Johnson plan to continue the tradition as long as possible before passing the torch on.
“You hear the stories of these people and they touch you,” explained Stibeck. “People are so grateful and that’s really what it’s about. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. When you know that you can help someone, affect someone else’s life, someone is grateful; this is Thanksgiving. “
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Festspielhaus Ratschings and is free of charge. You must wear a mask until you are seated at your table. The tables are spaced out to aid in social distancing.