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Residents of the Dover Children's Home took time to enjoy a meal together during the annual Thanksgiving celebration dinner at Blue Latitudes Wednesday. Area residents – both young and old – stopped by to enjoy a pre-holiday tradition for those in need. (JOHN QUINN PHOTO)

Hundreds enjoy friendship, food at Dover pre-Thanksgiving gathering

DOVER — While there's no place like home for the holidays, hundreds of area residents found good food and camaraderie at Blue Latitudes Wednesday.

Organizers Mike Steinberg and Jeff Roemer, who serve as presidents of Relyco and Blue Latitudes, respectively, believe even more people came to the pre-Thanksgiving event at the restaurant located 431 Central Ave. this year despite the fact wind-driven rain swept through the area.

The event has been gaining momentum since Roemer and Steinberg started offering meals in 2008 to area residents who may not be able to enjoy Thanksgiving. Since then, more volunteers, performers and participants want to be part of the event.

"We had people start calling in October asking if they could make a reservation," Steinberg said, adding there was plenty of room for everyone.

Residents from nursing homes, housing authorities and children's homes throughout the tri-city area came to enjoy a traditional meal of soup, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls and two types of pie — pumpkin and pecan.

For those unable to finish the feast, there were plenty of takeout containers for leftovers.

Flo and John Forgione, who both live in Dover, said they look forward to coming to this event every year ever since they first came when it began five years ago.

"This is my Thanksgiving dinner," Flo Forgione said.

It was the first time Maria Patterson, who lives in Dover but grew up in South Carolina, came to the meal, but she was so impressed by the food, especially the pecan pie, that she plans to make this a tradition.

"I'm glad I could be here," Patterson said after enjoying dinner with her son, Dean Kandilakis of South Berwick, Maine.

A variety of area residents wanted to help by performing music of all kinds during dinner.

Rebecca Hios, of Rochester, performed songs from "The Music Man" and Monty Python's "Spamalot."

Later, pianist Lizzie MacEchern, 16, of Northwood, said she was glad to perform during the event, even if it was a little nerve-wracking.


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