Thanksgiving feast on ‘The Ridge’ |

Thanksgiving feast on ‘The Ridge’

John HartServing the food are (left to right) Jonathan Robinson, Carol Cator and Corinne Boyle.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Lee Matthews regularly drives from his hometown of Colfax to San Juan Ridge in a brown truck filled with packages. United Parcel Service pays him for it.

On Thursday, he made a special trip in his own vehicle to help serve turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rice, cranberries, rolls, green beans and pie to dozens of Ridge residents. No paycheck this time.

“This is my family up here – my people,” Matthews said. “They put food on my table all year. I can help them out.”

“Family” was a recurring theme as dozens from all over the Ridge joined at the North San Juan Fire Hall to chow down the homemade potluck, chat and listen to live music.

The fifth such Thanksgiving gathering, its origin lies with Claire Grondona, who pledged after a heart attack that she would help the needy.

“I guess I made a deal with somebody upstairs,” she said.

But with the very first dinner more than the needy arrived, turning it into a community celebration. Last year’s event drew about 100 people.

That’s what first-time feast-goer Emily Brady enjoyed.

“I love it. It’s beautiful,” she said, looking across a room that showed the young, old, poor and wealthy. “People from all walks of life are here.”

She and her friend, Helen Bowers, each contributed apple pies. Another friend, Annette Parkinson, successfully convinced herself she could cook a turkey.

“If you spend Thanksgiving with a small circle of people, it’s OK,” Parkinson said. “But if you expand that circle, it’s a much better feeling.”

This was the first year a band played at the event. Moho guitarist and drummer Mark Andrews enjoyed a meal and socialized before the five-piece, rock and folk band – which often grows to as many as 10 people during concerts – took the stage.

A chat with Grondona convinced him it was a “cool idea.”

“This is about the community and getting together,” he said.

In all, Grondona was overwhelmed by the many people who cooked, served and ate.

“This is my family,” she said. “I mean, I can get tears in my eyes I love all these people so much.”

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