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10 years of fellowship at FD Ford

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Elaine Janssen, of Fort Dodge, is all smiles as she talks with her table companions Thursday afternoon during the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota.

Over a decade ago, Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota owner Casey Johnson was sitting with his family after their Thanksgiving meal at home when the idea for a community dinner in the showroom came into being.

The next year, he partnered with the Culinary Arts Program at Iowa Central Community College to make it a reality.

Out went the cars and trucks, in came the tables, chairs, plates and a lot of turkey.

That’s been repeated 10 times now, and it happened again Thursday.

Elaine Janssen, of Fort Dodge, has been to almost all 10 of those.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jamie Leith, of Fort Dodge, gets into the spirit of the day Thursday with a turkey hat as he attends the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota.

“It was probably shortly after they started,” she said.

She enjoys the event.

“I don’t have to wash the dishes,” she joked. “I also like the companionship. We see people here we only see once a year.”

She wouldn’t prepare a big meal with all the fixings at home.

“I’d probably buy something from the store we could heat up,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Bill and Alice Havlik, of Fort Dodge, enjoy their meal at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota Thursday afternoon.

Jamie Leith, of Fort Dodge, was also one of those enjoying the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

He wore a turkey hat for the occasion.

“I like to see the people together having a good time and relaxing,” he said. “Especially people that don’t have anyone. It really beats eating alone.”

Alice Havlik, of Fort Dodge, was enjoying the meal with her husband Bill, who was quietly about to enjoy his pie.

“He’s the shy one,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Meg Marsh, 9, of Fort Dodge, takes care of serving cranberry sauce Thursday during the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

They decided to attend the Community Thanksgiving Dinner rather than cook at home since their children live mostly out of state.

“It’s very good,” she said. “I don’t have the kitchen mess and all the prep work and Bill doesn’t have the dishes.”

He seemed OK with that; he nodded yes.

The Iowa Central students had prepared enough food for about 2,000 meals this year. Many of those are delivered by volunteers.

“We had 800 ready to go,” Casey Johnson said. “We just had to call and make 400 more.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa Central Community College Culinary Arts student Andy Johnson, of Fort Dodge, helps out with the green bean serving duties Thursday during the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota.

There were also plenty of guests in the dealership. At one point, the line snaked nearly all the way across the showroom.

“I’ve never seen a line like that,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Rev. Dana Wendel, of Clarion, stops to take a picture of family and friends Thursday afternoon while enjoying the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota.