Byron Brown spends most of his days running the state’s second-largest city, but that wasn’t good enough to stop one of his supervisors from chastising him Thursday morning.
“Mayor, would you please get to work,” teased a woman sporting a turkey hat, standing behind the counter and impatiently holding a serving spoon over trays of stuffing and gravy.
Buffalo’s mayor quickly broke away and heeded her call, taking up his position.
“I’m the turkey server,” Brown said good-naturedly. “I’m the first in line, so I take a lot of heat if I’m not doing the right thing.”
On Thursday, the “right thing” was helping to serve about 250 meals to the needy during the Salvation Army of Buffalo’s annual Thanksgiving Day dinner, a tradition of the charity for more than 70 years.
The mayor was one of about 50 volunteers at Salvation Army’s downtown Buffalo facility at 960 Main St., offering up a traditional Thanksgiving feast to about 50 to 60 people at a time in a large community room. Guests ranged from the homeless to families and seniors who participate in the organization’s religious services or Golden Age senior program.
“The dinner isn’t just about feeding the poor and the needy. It’s just about people who have a need,” said Maj. Thomas Applin, executive director of the Salvation Army of Buffalo. “And need isn’t just about not having something. Sometimes, need is you just need to be with somebody. You just need time to be with others.”
That’s the way Mary Scofield, 66, of Buffalo sees it. “I look forward to it every year,” she said between bites. “I like the food, the relationship between each person, the atmosphere.”
Margaret Haflett and her husband drive in from Hamburg every year for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and also attend church services and other activities at Salvation Army during the week. “Our family is all grown up and gone, so we come for camaraderie with one another,” said Hafflett, 79. “It’s all the friends we have, going around and giving each other a hug. And the mayor, he always comes in and gives a big hug to us.”
The turkeys, which were cooked in advance, were donated by Brown’s office and Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy’s foundation, Shades of Greatness Inc.
“I wanted to come out and celebrate Thanksgiving, and I enjoyed the service,” said Temeka Jones, 33, who moved to Buffalo recently from Wisconsin with her four daughters, ages 7 through 14. “It’s nice for the community.”
Volunteers staffed community feeds throughout the Buffalo area, as well. Buffalo City Mission staff and volunteers spent Thanksgiving morning packing and delivering more than 5,500 meals to elderly, poor and homebound individuals and families throughout Western New York through its Turkey Express program.
Outdoors, the day was perfect, with a mix of sun and clouds and a high temperature of 61 degrees – 15 to 20 degrees above normal, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Mitchell.
Come Friday afternoon, a cold front will bring rain overnight and into Saturday morning, with a chance of a coating of snow in some areas, Mitchell said. Things “will dry out” Sunday and Monday, with the highs in the lower 40s.