The moon is still high in the sky, a beautiful full moon in all its glory.
Meanwhile, I’m scrambling to get to the Empire State Plaza.
In the past, I’ve arrived at 330pm and found a line of turkey dinner drivers, all ready to drive Thanksgiving meals to needy families around the Capital District as part of Equinox’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner charity event. Not this time. It’s pitch black outside and I’m going to get there as early as possible.
In the Empire State Plaza parking garage. No other cars. Yes. I’m going to be the first in line.
In the elevator. I’m going to be first in line, I know it.
And as I walk down the Concourse, I discover…
Two other people in line ahead of me.
And one of them – like me – has become part of the “Core Five.”
So that’s fine.
The “Core Five” of Equinox drivers – myself, Kevin from Colonie, Susan who wears a turkey apron and turkey hat, Nick and his father (years ago, a seven-year-old Nick convinced his father to do the drive, and now Nick is a college graduate and still does the drive) – all showed up with totes and coolers and folding chairs, all ready to deliver.
Meanwhile, as the hours tick away, we talk about where we’ve been – Susan missed the turkey deliveries for health reasons last year, so it’s nice to see her back in line – and the line itself begins to stretch. And stretch. And stretch.
Oh look, News 10 ABC has a report on the event!
Oh look, it’s Channel 13 doing a news report!
Oh look, Time Warner Cable News is doing a news report! You get the picture…
As the line grew longer and longer, I spoke with one of the Equinox volunteers about how many dinner “tickets” the drivers should take. Last year, a snowstorm trimmed Equinox’s driver volunteers, and some drivers took two address packs as opposed to one. This year, however, there were plenty of signs on the tables requesting that drivers only take one ticket pack apiece. That’s good. It means that more drivers are volunteering to help. That, and 50-degree weather in the Capital District doesn’t hurt, either.
So where to go this year… I went through my memories of trips in the past. Wynantskill. Fort Plain. Fonda. Voorheesville. Corinth. A Nassau-Cropseyville double feature. And other locations that I traveled to long before I had a weblog.
The line kept growing. You would think people were waiting in line for Adele concert tickets.
And finally, at around 830am… with myself and the rest of the “Core Five” at the front of the line…
And I grabbed a driver ticket for – New Lebanon. Columbia County. Haven’t done that area yet. Heck, one wrong turn and I’d end up in Massachusetts.
Okay. Single family, six turkey dinners with six sets of stuffing and potatoes and vegetables and gravy and a loaf of bread and other trimmings and fixings. Blackbird loaded. GPS on the BlackBerry loaded. Car full of gasoline, and SiriusXM’s seasonal “Holly” Christmas station blasting out the tunes.
Ready set – here we go. Columbia County. This is fun.
About a half hour later, I found the home. Delivery complete, I was greeted by the family, happy Thanksgivings were exchanged, and my Equinox drive time was complete. Homeward bound.
And can I say this? Doing these Thanksgiving turkey dinner deliveries means a lot to me. And it means a lot to everyone who drives that morning, who cooks that morning, who boxes up the foods and who helps organize the event that morning. Equinox does a hell of a job every year. And no matter whether you need a meal, or you want to drive, this event is as much a Thanksgiving tradition around the 518 as running marathons in Troy or a Christmas parade in Schenectady. It’s our identity and our legacy. A legacy of giving and of thankfulness.
And I’m always reminded of that every time I volunteer for this event.
So next year, the members of the “Core Five” promise to have custom-made sweatshirts for the event in 2016. I’m in.
I’ll be there in 2016.
And thanks to this blog, I’ll bring all of you with me as well.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.