This year will mark the fifth anniversary of an event that has become a Webster City Thanksgiving tradition.
Whoop-ti-Doos & La-ti-Daas eatery will again host a free community Thanksgiving meal. It will be held Thursday, Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their location at 626 Second St. Guests can dine in with a buffet-style setup, get carry out or request a delivery by calling 832-3663.
“We like to do this for people without family, who can’t get out, who don’t like to cook; maybe college students who are away from home; there are many different needs,” explains restaurant owner Joy Fopma. “We served about 125 people the first year, and about 300 the second year. The last two years we’ve grown to about 500.” About 300 of the meals last year were deliveries in Webster City or the surrounding area, she says.
Planning for the event starts in late September and is carried out with volunteer assistance and donations.
“We’re 100 percent volunteer and donation; there are lots of people in the community who help every year,” Fopma says.
Volunteers lend a hand with everything from publicity, prep work the evening before, serving or delivering meals, baking pumpkin pies, donating financially toward the cost of the event, inviting other to attend or dining with them on Thanksgiving Day.
“We have lots of businesses and churches help out. People are so willing to help; it’s incredible,” Fopma says.
Some volunteers pitch in because they, too, might otherwise be alone on the holiday.
“Some families do it because they want to give, serve, share and teach their kids,” Fopma says.
The menu features the traditional Thanksgiving dishes: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, and coffee, water or cranberry spritzer.
Thanksgiving eve and morning are busy for Fopma, her family and volunteers.
“I’m usually here at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning,” she says. “We have such a good crew the night before; we prep everything then, and set up extra tables and the serving line.
“We do training with the delivery drivers that morning. If I could choose one job to do, that would be it,” Fopma says. The drivers might be greeting homebound people who might not have any other personal interaction that day.
“I encourage them to take their time with the deliveries,” she says. “Those people express lots of gratitude, and the delivery people get to share in that blessing.
“In America, we make the holidays such a ‘ta-da’, but it can also be a lonely time, so if we can take some of the pain out of it and help serve Christ, we’ve accomplished something,” Fopma says.
Hosting the meal is a way for Fopma to strengthen her faith and share Christ’s love with others.
“Now, I can’t imagine not doing it,” she says. “We want people who aren’t celebrating to be cared for. We encourage people to come out and dine with us. We want people to feel welcome and wanted.”
A longtime local tradition for seniors in the community is the Senior Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner, held at noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at Fuller Hall.
“We try to do one special event each month for seniors, and this is the one each November,” explains Larry Flaws, assistant recreation and public grounds director. This year the Nov. 21 gathering will mark its 32nd year.
The city provides the meat, potatoes, stuffing, table service and beverages, says Flaws, and seniors are asked to bring a covered dish or dessert to share. Crestview Manor is also serving as a sponsor this year. Personnel from the offices at City Hall and Fuller Hall help serve the meal. Matthew Sprague, Youth & Family Minister at the Church of Christ, says grace.
“We get to eat and for fellowship, and we always play bingp afterwards,” he says. “It’s remained popular over the years.”
Attendance for the potluck usually runs between 50 – 60 people, Flaws says.
The Turkey Trot, a 5K Run/Walk has been a Webster City Thanksgiving tradition for nearly 20 years. According to Flaws, the event is for all ages and starts at 9 a.m. Nov. 22. The run/walk route begins and ends at Fuller Hall. Entry fee is two non-perishable food items that are donated to Upper Des Moines Opportunity.
“We usually have between 120 – 130 people,” Flaws says. “Lots of people who are back in town visiting are looking for a way to exercise with their family.”
A relatively new tradition on the Friday after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday” shopping, which marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
The term, Black Friday, dates back to around 1966 but was primarily used on the East Coast. Since 2000, however, the term has become more common in other parts throughout the United States. Black Friday begins the push for retail stores have enough sales to put them “in the black” for the year.
Sandy Schossow began her annual Black Friday shopping sprees in the late 1980s when she found great bargains on blue jeans at Target.
“They were just $7 a pair, so I’d pick up three or four pair for whoever in the family wanted them,” she recalls.
She has continued shopping on the day after Thanksgiving for several years now.
“It’s a way to save a little money and start Christmas shopping.”
As a former prep cook at the Touchdown restaurant, Schossow would go to work at midnight on Thanksgiving and be off early in the morning when her shift ended to start her bargain-hunting. In recent years, as stores have started opening earlier in the morning, she has started her shopping trips around 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
“Lots of the stores open at midnight,” she explains.
Sometimes she goes alone; other times family members join her. Her grandson went with her for several years, and her daughter and granddaughters have also joined her.
One of Sandy’s Black Friday rituals is stopping at J.C. Penney to get one of their annual Mickey Mouse snow globes.
Standing in line to get into stores or to check out doesn’t bother Sandy. She is patient, but if there is something particular she’s after, she fights her way through the crowd to get it.
“It’s a challenge,” she says. “You just have to cooperate with people.”
Sandy usually has a plan for her outings; she scours the newspaper ads Thanksgiving afternoon and makes her list. A television she got for her son one year was a great bargain, she says, as was her first computer, acquired on a Black Friday. The best treasure she got at a bargain price was the KitchenAid mixer she got for her daughter Jane.
Sandy’s tip for staying alert while shopping in the wee hours: “Just keep moving. Don’t slow down.”
“I keep saying this is my last year, but of course, every year I go again,” she says.
If there were such a thing as a “professional” Black Friday shopper, Juli Jaycox and Jen Weber might fit that profile. The two friends are savvy shoppers throughout the year but especially so on Black Friday.
They say they appreciate the stores being open extra-early so they can have that extra time to accomplish their shopping goals while their families are still sleeping.
“That’s like eight more hours of shopping without anyone bugging you!” Jen says. “… then they start calling,” Juli adds with a grin.
Juli goes to bed early on Thanksgiving night, but Jen stays up.
“I try to sleep, but I just can’t!” she says. They hit the road between 1 or 2 a.m. with a thermos full of inspiration.
“Coffee is a necessity,” Juli says, adding that she gets her energy for the trip from coffee, but Jen gets hers from adrenaline.
Preparation for their outing begins a couple days beforehand. Both women scour ads and online store sites for bargains and plan their strategy.
“Jenny always knows where the deals are,” Juli says.
They make their lists and a schedule based on when each store opens. Juli even utilizes a Christmas list app on her iPod.
“We look at the ads and find what we need most and what we need at each store, and then decide if we want to wait in line for it and how long we’re willing to wait. We prioritize our lists and decide what’s worth the wait,” Jen explains.
Something that was worth the wait was the “Guitar Hero” music video game at Best Buy a few years back, Jen recalls. Juli says the longest they’ve ever waited in line for an item is an hour for a KitchenAid mixer on sale.
“I don’t need it if I have to wait too long. It’s just fun,” she says.
“The bargains are the best when they’re at least 50 percent off,” Jen says. “Places that never have deals have deals on Black Friday.”
Items they typically shop for are electronics, pajamas, luggage, clothing and perfume.
“With my schedule, this is the only time I have to do my Christmas shopping. If I don’t get it on Black Friday, it doesn’t get done,” Jen says.
The two try to stay focused on gifts for their families, but Juli admits it’s hard to resist the urge not shop for themselves.
With practice they’ve perfected their Black Friday tactics. Sometimes the two split up and tag-team to make better use of their time. They’ve learned to hit the stores a couple hours after they open, allowing the crowd to thin out a little.
“It starts to get busy around 10 a.m. when we’re almost done,” Juli says.
To avoid getting loaded down with bags while shopping, they make periodic trips back to their vehicle to drop them off, and large bulky items are retrieved at the end of their quest.
“We save the big stuff for last,” Juli says.
When they’re finally finished, they enjoy a relaxing lunch.
“We go someplace fun where we can sit down, get refreshed, and have someone serve us,” Juli says.
In addition to getting good deals, the two mainly enjoy spending the day together and being out among fellow shoppers.
“We always run into people we know,” Juli says.