When you walked into the Carson Nugget Casino on Thursday, your nostrils were immediately accosted with the sweet smells of the holiday.
Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and more lined a long row of tables as volunteers and city officials served all of the Thanksgiving staples.
The Carson Nugget hosted its annual Thanksgiving feast for residents to come together on the holiday. This is the 60th year the Nugget has hosted this free Thanksgiving meal for Carson City residents to enjoy.
“Lots of people around the holidays are without family so this is like a built-in family for a lot of people,” said Nugget General Manager Dean DiLullo.
It takes staff nearly a week of cooking to prepare the hundreds of turkey dinners for the hungry residents of Carson City. DiLullo said they see about 700 people at the Nugget as well as provide another 200 meals to people, mostly seniors, who can’t make it into the casino.
“It is about friends and family getting to come together and enjoy a free meal by The Nugget, FISH, and the Hop and Mae Adams Foundation,” DiLullo said.
This dinner has been a tradition since 1957 when the Nugget’s first owner Dick Graves started the event.
“The turkey feast was created as a community event for all of Carson City,” DiLullo said. “It has been happening for 60 years and will continue to happen for many years.”
In addition to the turkey feast, The Nugget hosts a turkey drive to donate extra birds to Friends In Service Helping (FISH) after the holiday. This year they collected more than a thousand turkeys to use in the feast and to donate to the shelter.
“The community really stepped up and delivered this year so we have plenty for the feed and extras to feed the community for months to come,” DiLullo said.
And it takes a village to get this event together. Employees spend nearly two days setting up the massive ballroom where the feast takes place and chefs take almost a week to prepare the 1,300 pounds of turkey, 200 pounds of stuffing and potatoes and 90 pies.
But it is all worth it.
Hundreds of residents lined up outside of the Nugget ballroom for their plate stuffed with all the Thanksgiving favorites.
“It is very good, if I didn’t think it wasn’t good I wouldn’t come back so what does that tell you?” said Dave Fiorella, who has been attending the event for several years. “It is well prepared and professionally done, it’s a tight ship they have here.”
And it’s not just the feasters that enjoy the event, hundreds of volunteers from the community come out and help each year passing out drinks and seating people. Several prominent community members including Sheriff Ken Furlong, Mayor Bob Crowell and the Board of Supervisors passed out the food.
“To give back is the most important part and it’s what we were looking forward to most,” said Terry Nimes.
Nimes and his wife Norma Torres-Nimes flew out from Phoenix, Ariz., to help volunteer for the feast.
“It is an annual trip we come out for Thanksgiving for the last eight years and we knew our friend Dean DiLullo did this with his kids so we asked if we could come and join too,” said Torres-Nimes. “It is just fantastic because it is somewhere anyone can come and have a warm meal on Thanksgiving.”