Table is set for free Thanksgiving meals, Parade of Lights event

Hubert Ray of BBQ-Licious checks on the 15 turkeys he was smoking Tuesday for the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving Day meal Thursday.
Laura Simon

Area volunteers are ramping up efforts to make Cape Girardeau a better place to enjoy the holidays.

Capt. Ronnie Amick of the Salvation Army said the turkeys are being cooked for the not-for-profit organization’s annual Thanksgiving dinner.

On Thanksgiving Day, Amick expects the Salvation Army to serve 2,200 people between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., including deliveries to the homebound.

To do that, he said it relies on volunteer help.

“We always encourage volunteers to come out,” he said. “But we can’t always guarantee what work there will be to do.”

Volunteers can help serve food, bus tables, take coats, etc. They can sign up online at the Salvation Army’s website at to reserve volunteer spots.

The BBQ-Licious food truck, Southeast Missouri State University and the Cape Career and Technical Center each donated a number of turkeys for the event, which the Salvation Army has hosted in Cape Girardeau for more than 15 years.

In Jackson, Ron Cook, who owns Stooges Restaurant, also will host a Thanksgiving meal Thursday.

“First off, it’s open to anybody,” he said. “You can come whether it’s a financial reason or you just don’t want to be alone on the holiday.”

He said he doesn’t want anyone “to stay home because they think it’s charity.”

There will be a donation box for those who wish to pay for the meal, but it’s not necessary.

“We just know that there’s a lot of people out there,” he said.

It will be the second time his restaurant has hosted a no-charge meal.

“We started it on last Christmas,” he said, “And, if we can, we plan to do it this Christmas, too.”

The restaurant’s last event fed about 275 people, and Cook said he expects a similar turnout.

“We can only feed about 90 at one time, so we’ll do three seatings and maybe add a fourth if we need to,” he said. “One at 11, noon and 1 p.m., so people should call and make a reservation.”

The restaurant’s phone number is (573) 204-7187.

He said he hasn’t begun cooking yet, but with turkeys, pork loins, sweet potatoes, rolls and desserts, he’s pulling out all the stops.

“It’s just like a Thanksgiving meal you’d have at home,” he said.

Parade of Lights

And because the close of Thanksgiving means Christmas season, the weekend will close with the annual Parade of Lights through downtown Cape Girardeau on Sunday evening. This year marks the 25th edition of the Parade of Lights.

"We actually as of today have a full lineup," said Katy Amhrein, marketing and events coordinator for Old Town Cape. "We cap it at 100 entries so that it's not too terribly, terribly long, but we'll have a full parade."

Parking will be restricted along the parade route, which runs from Capaha Park down Broadway to Main Street. The parade will begin at dusk, about 5 p.m.

Amhrein said representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps will lead the parade and collect donations along the route for the annual Toys for Tots toy drive.

"We hope people will come sit out to collect candy and watch the floats go by and all that," Amhrein said. "It will be really festive, since it'll be dark outside."

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