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Thanksgiving tradition that started after hurricane continues in Chauvin

CHAUVIN, La. - Lona Smith remembers that first Thanksgiving.

It was 1985.

"Hurricane Juan was Oct. 28, so everybody was just cleaning mud, water, slime, garbage out of their houses," she says. "Why not come wash your hands, get a good plate of food?"

Twenty-eight years later, the tradition continues in Chauvin. The Ward 7 Hall on Highway 56 will host a Thanksgiving dinner for more than 300 people Thursday.

Volunteers spent Wednesday roasting and de-boning nearly 30 turkeys.

"Oh, it's a lot of work, as you can see," says Keisha Foret, president of the Ward 7 Citizens Club.

The real work begins early Thanksgiving morning. Volunteers will arrive at 6 a.m. to prepare all of the side dishes. That includes 75 pounds of rice dressing, yams, cranberry sauce, and peas, better known as "petit pois" in these parts.

"But it doesn't matter where you come from, how much money you got," says Smith. "If you ain't got no money, you still welcome over here."

Through so many years and so many storms, Smith says there are always reasons to give thanks.

"Hurricane Rita was In September. We lost our home, a lot of people down here lost our homes," she says. "But we still managed to come here and cook a Thanksgiving dinner. So what more can you thank God for, everyday you got life?"

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