For most Calistoga residents and their families, there will only be one turkey roasted next Thanksgiving Day.
When Calistoga's Marciano family decides to have a Thanksgiving dinner, though, they do things a little differently. They cook up a dozen turkeys. Toss several gallons of salad, bake a whole lot of cornbread stuffing and enough pies to feed everybody on the block, literally!
"My wife just got it into her head one year that there was no free Thanksgiving Day dinner in the town so she wanted to start one," said Pete Marciano recently. "That's how it got started."
Next week will be the sixth year the Marciano family has cooked up a Thanksgiving Day feast for the community at the Butler building on the Napa County Fairgrounds. The family and some friends will be cooking all of the food. They are buying the birds, salad greens and most of the supplies from Cal-mart.
About the only thing the family is doing differently than in previous years is that they are ordering the turkey by the pound. Last year, Pete carved up 11 turkeys. This year, said Sylvia, they're ordering about 140 pounds of turkey, or about 14 birds. She estimates that will feed around 150 people. "We're going to have Caesar salads this year," Sylvia said.
"We usually have about 100 people make reservations," Sylvia said. "But we always estimate a little higher, so people don't need to feel shy about walking in without a reservation."
Most of the family is making a return trip to help out this year, as well,. including Pete, his wife Sylvia and their sons. Pete will still carve the 14 or so birds and Fred, one of his sons, will be the chief dishwasher. Fred's children Vintage High School students Kelly, 17, and Kevin, 15, will wait tables. Kelly Marciano plans to ask 4-H club members doing community service to help but if they aren't available she will get friends to lend a hand.
Friends of Marcianos, Ellen and Bob Barberi of Napa will also join the work party. Once again Ellen Barberi will be in charge of the home deliveries, about 25 in all. Calistoga Police Chief Mike Dick will be available to make home deliveries this year. Bob Barberi oversees the wine. Another longtime friend, Frances Tedeschi Marchner is in charge of the hors d'oeuvres table and makes the cheese balls.
The Marciano labor of love will start Wednesday evening with the preparation of the kitchen at the Napa fairgrounds.
"We'll start in shifts about 7 a.m. on Thursday morning," said Sylvia. "Someone will wash the veggies, soak the potatoes an generally get things going."
Sylvia said funding for the project has never been a problem.
"When we started doing this we were planning to only do it one year," she said. "But it was so successful that people wanted to help. People started to donate and help out. Some people even left money, donations, under their plates when they left. Paying for this dinner has never been a problem.
This year's Thanksgiving dinner, free and open to all, will be held in the fairground's Butler building, 1435 N. Oak St., Thursday, Nov. 27, with one seating at 2 p.m. Home deliveries to the housebound are also available. Reservations are encouraged. Call Sylvia or Pete at 942-4037.