Old Edmonton Thanksgiving dinner tradition returns at new venue

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WATCH ABOVE: The Millbourne Laundromat's Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition in Edmonton. This year, for the first time, the business was closed. But as Sarah Kraus explains, it's only because they needed a little more space to share their turkeys. – Oct 9, 2017

The Millbourne Laundromat Thanksgiving dinner has become synonymous with the holiday in Edmonton.

For the 25th year, guests attended the annual Thanksgiving event on Monday for turkey and all the fixings.

“I’m so thankful they’re doing this for the people who need it,” guest Carol Lambert said.

“And that’s what Thanksgiving is for: give to people who are in need.”

Lambert, who was once homeless, said she wouldn’t have this type of Thanksgiving dinner if it wasn’t for the annual event.

“I’m just grateful to have this place, grateful this lady is doing this.”

READ MORE: High demand could force Edmonton Thanksgiving tradition to move

The demand for the dinner has increased so much over the years that the event was put in jeopardy due to the growing cost and the lack of space at the Millbourne Laundromat. Owner Jane Hwang was concerned that last year’s dinner would be the last.

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However, the event was saved in large part because the Leefield Community League provided the community hall for no charge.

“When Will, the community president, offered it for free, I was like, ‘Wow,'” Hwang said.

“It’s a big place, so we can hold more people and keep doing this.”

The Rotary Club has been involved in the event for the past seven years. This year, the club not only donated $5,000 towards the dinner but volunteers as well.

“We want to be part of this because it’s the community that we represent. We have between 20 and 30 volunteers here today and over the weekend, [helping with] the preparation of the food,” Rotary Club Edmonton Southeast president Andy Dowdall said.
“[Given] the events of last weekend and the events of Vegas, it’s nice to see the community spirit and the human spirit rising to the surface.”

The remainder of the bill was covered by community members and businesses.

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1,300 people were expected to attend Monday’s dinner.

“I feel so great. When people come here, eat warm food, they say, ‘I never eat this kind of food before,’ then I’m really really happy. That’s why I keep doing it,” Hwang said.

The tradition was started by the original Millbourne Laundromat owner Shirley Tripp when she cooked a Thanksgiving meal for a group of men who had just come to Alberta from Newfoundland and was continued by the new owner.

The dinner was open to everyone between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.