Racine Thanksgiving tradition back for year 12

NOW: Racine Thanksgiving tradition back for year 12

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- If you ask Ray Stibeck, he thought the Thanksgiving idea that he and friend Dan Johnson came up with over a decade ago would maybe last a year or two. 12 years later, it's stronger than ever.

"When we started this, we didn't expect to be here 12 years later," Stibeck said. "Dan and I joke, 'Maybe we won't do it this year.' People won't allow that."

Stibeck owns Route 20 Bar and Restaurant. Johnson owns Danny's Meats and Catering.

Together, the two have created a Racine tradition that brings out thousands year after year to enjoy turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and so much more, all free of charge.

"We were the guys that started this, but to be honest with you, the community has embraced it," Stibeck explained. "They show up every year; volunteers, donations, it really has become the community Thanksgiving."

Not only does the event provide a Thanksgiving meal for those in the community searching for one, it gives those looking to give back the chance to do so.

"It's a good opportunity to give back," said first-year volunteer Jeff Hollow. "Especially this time of year. You know, a lot of people need help and it's great to help them."

Ray Yocco is back for his tenth year, proud to be a part of the tradition.

"The joy of helping, the camaraderie; you come back to people you've been working with over the years, and it's like homecoming," Yocco said. "Racine can stand proud and stand positive about what we're doing."

As for the event's future, Stibeck says it's strong, with he and Johnson planning to continue the tradition for as long as they can before passing on the torch.

"You hear these people's stories and they impact you,' Stibeck explained. "People are so grateful and that's really what it's about. That's what Thanksgiving's about. When you know you can help somebody, impact somebody else's life, somebody's thankful; that's Thanksgiving."

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Festival Hall in Racine and is free of charge. Masks are required until sitting at your table. Tables are spaced out to help accommodate social distancing.

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