No one in Carson City had to go hungry or be alone for Thanksgiving thanks to the generosity of the Carson Nugget, which threw open its doors to the public for three hours Thursday.
The annual free turkey dinner had drawn about 450 people into the banquet room by about noon, but Food and Beverage Manager Nick DeMagistris said they expected to feed at least 1,000 people before the event was over.
Many of those who accepted the Nugget's hospitality this year talked about the difficult times they were going through as families.
Jessica Negrete, a single mother of three children ages 2, 1 and 8 months, said she had been working at Friends In Service Helping recently due to financial hardships.
"My mother (Rosa Negrete) worked at a convalescent home for nine years and she got laid off one-and-a-half months ago," Jessica Negrete said. "She was the only one working in our family."
Chris Prater of Incline Village, who brought his wife and three children to the dinner, said they made a donation at the door because they wanted to enjoy a nice meal together before feeding a group of less fortunate friends later in the evening at their home.
"A lot of people have fallen on their families for help," Prater said. "We're definitely making less than we were a year ago. I just attended my 28th class reunion and they were all doing something different than they were 10 years ago. This reminds me of how bad it was in 1991 through 1994.
"College grads are really getting sucker-punched. Maybe they went to school to become a rocket scientist, but they didn't get a job as a rocket scientist so they're back to flipping burgers."
For Carson City's Marie Marsh, 89, the dinner offered a chance to get out of the house and spend time with people.
"I would have had to be alone today, but I came here with my friend, and it's wonderful," Marsh said.
"I don't know what people would do without this, especially all those people with little children," Marsh said.
"I think it's great that they do this for people," she said of the Nugget. "They are really good people."
DeMagistris called the dinner "absolutely wonderful."
"It's been nice and fluid with a steady base, and people seem to be enjoying themselves," he said. "We're seeing a lot of happy people right now and that's what the Nugget is all about."
The menu included turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, house salad, green beans almondine, cranberry relish, sausage and apple stuffing, candied yams with marshmallows, rolls and butter, as well as pumpkin and apple pie.
The Nugget offers another free dinner on Christmas Day.