At least 2,000 people filled their bellies with turkey and holiday cheer at Bob Vogelbaugh's 42nd annual community Thanksgiving dinner at SouthPark Mall in Moline.
Mr. Vogelbaugh wasat the center of the action as 400 volunteers dashed about inside the mall, serving turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
Volunteers came to Mr. Thanksgiving, as he's known, looking for garbage bags when they ran out, for help with a toilet malfunction and advice as seating grew scarce.He happily conducted his crew and lapped up the bustling atmosphere.
"You can feel the love," he said. "This is like one big family because it's about people coming together. It's not a charity dinner, it never has been and it never will."
The crowd who came to eat and be merry were diverse.
Children played as their parents relaxed without having to worry about cleaning up after a hearty meal. Police officers helped bring plates of food to the infirm. There was live music and lots of laughter.
Sandra Atherton, of Rock Island, volunteered for the day with her husband Bob.
"My children and grandchildren were all with their in-laws today so I didn't have to cook and so I decided it was time for me to give back to my community," Ms. Atherton said. "There is a real feeling of fellowship here, and I've seen many friends I hadn't seen for a long time."
The only thing that saddened Rodney Galyean, of East Moline, about the event was he couldn't eat as much of the food as he wanted because he was going through chemotherapy.
"I'm recovering from cancer," he said. "My family is dispersed, and my nephew and I decided to come here because we had no place to go. It's a great gathering, and I'm thankful they do this."
Dianne Siebke, of Bettendorf, enjoyed some turkey with her elderly mother, Joyce Siebke.
Ms. Siebke said it was becoming difficult for her mother to get around the kitchen to make a big meal and that's why the family came to the mall to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.
"This is just wonderful," Ms. Siebke said. "It brings our family together, and everybody gets along and that's a good thing."
Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.