For the second year in a row, it was a drive-up operation with Hy-Vee and their volunteers hustling to get the food cooked, packed and delivered to the vehicles as they pull up.
“It’s not the same,” Vogelbaugh laments. But maybe next year, for year 52, people can break bread together, side-by-side indoors.
Standing in the middle of the SouthPark Mall parking lot greeting the people parking and waiting to get in line, a lady was talking to Vogelbaugh.
If he needed any other reason for the dinner, she gave it to him. She is a widower and her children can’t make it this year. She was alone and just wanted to get out and be around people. “You know you are loved,” he told the woman as the line moved forward. She knew, Vogelbaugh meant every word.
Penny Machu, also a widower, said her children couldn’t come up. It was her first time to attend the event.
“The kids usually come up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but my son is out of town,” Machu said. “They live in Missouri and he called and said, ‘I don’t think I can drive up.’ I’m not going to bake a whole turkey for myself.”
Tim Cernin of Hy-Vee said this is the company’s 17th year helping Vogelbaugh with Thanksgiving.
“Bob might say it’s his 51st year, but he’ll always go back to it’s his 49th year because we can’t all join together and sit down for the meal,” Cernin said.