It’s hard to believe that Baby Boomer TV and film hero Dick Van Dyke will be 91 in a couple weeks, but time won’t slow the actor/comedian/singer/dancer down as he helps out at the Midnight Mission serving Thanksgiving brunch Thursday to thousands of homeless and near-homeless men, women and children.
Van Dyke, KLOS-FM (95.5) personality Gary Moore, other celebrities and nearly 400 corporate and community volunteers are scheduled to prepare and serve food from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the 102-year-old mission on Skid Row, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.
“Of the many services The Midnight provides to our unique community, one of the most important is the sense of family we offer to those who often feel lost and forgotten during the holidays and other days of celebration,” Berkovich said. “Now more than ever, we need to work together to restore hope and dignity to those in need.”
Van Dyke was a household name in the early 1960s as the TV star of the “Dick Van Dyke Show,” and he gained even greater fame as the chimney sweep sidekick to “Mary Poppins” in 1964. His 91st birthday will be Dec. 13.
Organizers of Thursday’s fourth annual Turkey Trot Los Angeles 5K/10K Run and Walk in downtown have encouraged the more than 5,000 expected participants to donate their time or money to The Midnight Mission, the race’s nonprofit partner, according to Brennan Lindner, president of Generic Events, which conducts the race.
The event will begin at 8 a.m. with a 5K race starting in front of City Hall. The course then loops up and around Grand Park, past Disney Hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Runners will then head south on Spring Street until Ninth Street, where they will make a U-turn, heading north on Spring Street back to the finish line at City Hall.
The 10K race will begin at 8:45 a.m. which consists of portions of the 5K course with extra mileage on Grand Avenue and Hope and Olive streets.
A half-mile “Widdle Wobble” for children and their parents will begin at 10 a.m.
The Fred Jordan Mission will hold its annual “Traditional Thanksgiving Banquet for Poor & Homeless Children, Women and Men on Skid Row” from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Thursday.
Hundreds of volunteers will serve nearly 1 ton of roast turkey, 50 gallons of gravy, 400 pounds of green beans, 500 pounds of candied yams, 500 pounds of mashed potatoes hundreds of pounds of traditional cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce and hundreds of pumpkin pies, according to the mission’s Suzanna Choi.
Each guest will receive a family food gift bag with fresh produce, blankets, warm jackets and socks, Choi said.
In addition to the homeless, the banquet also draw working families who can’t afford to cook a Thanksgiving dinner of their own, Choi said.
Volunteers and other members of the public are asked to bring new, unwrapped $15-$20 toys that will be distributed to thousands impoverished boys and girls around Christmas. Toys can be brought to the mission through Dec. 16.
Union Station Homeless Services expects to serve 2,000 plates of food at its annual Dinner in the Park at 11 a.m. at Central Park in Pasadena, continuing a tradition that began in 1972.
Meal recipients will include individuals and families experiencing homelessness and poverty, senior citizens, those who are alone or unable to afford a holiday meal, according to Union Station CEO John Brauer.
While Thanksgiving is the day in the U.S. when the most food is consumed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is also the largest running day of the year.
A record 901,753 runners completed races in 2015, according to Running USA, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the status and experience distance running and racing in the U.S.
Other Thanksgiving races in Los Angeles County include the 5K Tofurky Trot at 9 a.m. at the Rose Bowl, described by organizers as a great opportunity “to enjoy the company of fellow plant eaters and highlight the benefits of plant-based diets on this largely carnivorous holiday”; and the Burbank YMCA Turkey Trot.
The first official Thanksgiving was held in the Virginia Colony on Dec. 4, 1619. The traditional meal stems from one held in 1621 by the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The Continental Congress issued the nation’s first official Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1777. President George Washington issued a national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789, his first year in office.
Washington declared a national Thanksgiving holiday for the newly ratified Constitution, so people may thank God for “affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness” and for having “been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, particularly the national one now lately instituted.”
The first four presidents combined to issue six Thanksgiving proclamations. However, the tradition ended in 1815. Abraham Lincoln reinstituted it in 1863 in an attempt to heal the divisions caused by the Civil War. Every president since has made an official Thanksgiving proclamation.
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