Tracy Sunrise Rotary member Andy Trosien was decked out in a brown and orange turkey suit with a yellow beak as he wandered around the tables at the Portuguese Hall pouring coffee for people sitting down to an early turkey dinner.
Sponsored by the Sunrise Rotary, the 24th annual Senior Thanksgiving Dinner was served free of charge to about 500 seniors Sunday evening.
“It’s a super cool thing my Rotary club has put together for the last I don’t know how many years, and we’re doing it again this year,” Trosien said.
Trosien, a local orthodontist, had joined a line of Rotarians and other volunteers filling bowls with salad for each dinner guest before he donned his turkey costume to serve coffee.
“My club has been working since yesterday to set this up,” he said. “Came in early this morning to cut the turkeys up, and the kids came in earlier to get instructions on how to do it. Started packing up all the meals to go and started getting the tables set up for the seniors that are able to come out tonight.”
The dinner tradition was started by caterer John Day at the senior center so local seniors could share a holiday meal with their friends. Pam and Dave Warta took over after Day closed his business in 2009. Tracy Sunrise Rotary, which has been involved in the dinner for years, stepped up as the lead organizer three years ago.
Rotarian Stephanie Prioste helped run this year’s dinner and expected to serve 300 people at the hall. An additional 205 meals were delivered to people’s homes by a team of 16 drivers.
Prioste said it was important to keep the tradition going and growing.
“Rotary is all about service above self, and service to the community is No. 1, so we are proud to support our seniors,” Prioste said.
Work for the dinner began in October as the club gathered donations, including 60 turkeys.
“We had amazing support from the community with donated turkeys,” Prioste said.
Rotary members cooked the turkeys Saturday in preparation for Sunday evening’s dinner.
All the dinner guests had a turkey meal with all the trimmings — white and dark meat, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, a roll, and pumpkin pie for dessert.
Community volunteers helped serve food and coffee, including students from the Interact Clubs at local high schools and officers from Tracy Police Department and the California Highway Patrol.