Thanksgiving will be marked in Los Angeles County Thursday by large gatherings on Skid Row, the Sunset Strip and in Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley to feed homeless and poor residents and distance races in Burbank and Pasadena.
Actors Dick Van Dyke and Ed Begley Jr. and Councilman Jose Huizar will be among more than 300 volunteers serving Thanksgiving brunch at The Midnight Mission to thousands of homeless or nearly homeless men, women and children.
Food bags and donated clothing will also be distributed.
More than 4,000 homeless and low-income adults, families and senior citizens will be served Thanksgiving dinner at Union Station Homeless Services’ Dinner-in-the-Park at Central Park in Pasadena, continuing a tradition that began in 1972.
More than a ton of giant turkey legs will be served to thousands of Los Angeles’ most impoverished men, women and children at the Fred Jordan Mission on Skid Row.
More than 2,000 people will be served turkey dinners at the 27th annual free Community Thanksgiving Day dinner for homeless and low-income families at Guadalupe Community Center in Canoga Park.
Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village will serve more than 1,000 people in its parking lot at its 14th annual Thanksgiving Day Feed the Hungry Feast.
The feast is part of the congregation’s commitment to social action and serving others, which also includes its founding role in the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, which feeds 5,000 people per month, and its Moses Program for Jews with Disabilities.
More than 500 homeless people receiving services from the homeless services organization PATH will be served a Thanksgiving dinner at the Pink Taco restaurant on the Sunset Strip.
Distance races have become a growing Thanksgiving tradition.
The fifth annual Burbank Community YMCA Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot will be held on a double-loop course in downtown Burbank, with 5- and 10- kilometer races and a 5-kilometer “fun run/walk.”
Proceeds from the race will benefit the Burbank Community YMCA’s membership assistance program, which makes its facilities and programs available to the children and families in the city, regardless of ability to pay.
The inaugural 5-kilometer Tofurky Trot will be held outside the Rose Bowl, with prizes going to the top finishers in the men’s, women’s and youth divisions and for the best-costumed runner.
Proceeds will be donated to the National Museum of Animals and Society.
The first official Thanksgiving was held in the Virginia Colony on Dec. 4, 1619. The traditional meal stems from one held in 1621 by the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Mass.
The Continental Congress issued the nation’s first official Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1777. President George Washington issued a national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789, his first year in office. He declared a national thanksgiving holiday for the newly ratified Constitution, so people may thank God for “affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness” and for having “been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, particularly the national one now lately instituted.”
The first four presidents combined to issue six Thanksgiving proclamations. However, the tradition ended in 1815. Abraham Lincoln reinstituted it in 1863 in an attempt to heal the divisions caused by the Civil War. Every president since has made an official Thanksgiving proclamation.