Published November 12, 2020

NORTH READING — The annual Senior Citizen Thanksgiving dinner has been a local tradition for decades and sponsors and organizers are making certain the tradition will continue despite COVID-19.

During these unprecedented times and with strict gathering guidelines and regulations, the typical celebration was not possible in its regular format and style, but that’s not stopping the volunteers from celebrating the holiday. Organizers said they had to be creative with planning the event this year. Not only are gathering sizes greatly reduced but their guests, who are senior citizens, are in a very high risk group. Therefore, for this year, they had to reformat the tradition. Representative Brad Jones, his wife Linda Jones, and Senator Bruce Tarr, in partnership with the North Reading Council On Aging, have planned something special.

Organizers tried to keep as many elements of the event as possible intact in a safe manner. This year, the annual event will be a drive-up event on the same day, at the same time and at the same venue. North Reading’s senior citizens will visit them in the parking lot of Teresa’s at the Hillview Country Club, 149 North St., on Sunday, November 22 from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

“We really struggled with how to celebrate our senior citizens and continue this decades-long tradition. We collaborated with Mary Prenney and her staff to organize a festive drive-up event this year,” said Rep. Jones. 

Registered guests will be greeted in the parking lot at the Hillview by local officials and the invited guests who would normally be seated at the head table. Senior citizens will receive a festive bag containing tasty goodies and treats. These bags will be placed in their vehicle by a volunteer to ensure all safety protocols are being followed.

RSVP required 

As always, the event is free but interested North Reading senior citizens need to RSVP to reserve a Thanksgiving-inspired bag by calling the Senior Center at 978-664-5600. Reservations are required for planning purposes. One bag is available per household and quantities are limited, so be sure to make a reservation.

Food Pantry drive continues

Annually at the event guests attending the dinner are asked to bring canned goods to help stock the shelves of the North Reading Food Pantry. Drive-up guests who are able are encouraged to bring a few of the most wanted items for the Food Pantry.

Top needed items are:

• Quick breads/cookie mixes

• White tuna

• Hot chocolate

• Jarred pasta sauce

• Cake frosting

• Instant oatmeal packets

• Canned pasta

• All types of cleaners: all purpose, glass, dish detergent, etc.

“We are sad that we can’t gather inside and enjoy time on the dance floor but we think we found a unique way to keep the spirit of the annual tradition alive,” said Senator Bruce Tarr.

Remember, this Thanksgiving tradition continues…

Same date

Same time

Same venue 

Safe and healthy different format…

“We hope many senior citizens will drive by and pick up their tote bag and we look forward to returning to our festive seated luncheon on November 21, 2021,” added Jones.