Thanksgiving may be an American holiday, but at Hudson's On the Docks on Hilton Head Island, it truly was a global event.
A map volunteers use to highlight the hometowns of its dinner guests had pins in it representing countries across the world. All four of the United Kingdom's home nations, China, Cambodia, Guam, and nearly all of the continental United States were represented at Thursday's dinner.
And that was just a handful of the locations pinned on the map, volunteer Rich Miller said.
"It's fun to interact with the people in line," Miller said. "You get to learn a little bit about them."
Lines for the Thanksgiving dinner began forming at about 9:30 a.m., 90 minutes before Hudson's opened its doors Thursday, event co-chairwoman Gloria LaCoe said. LaCoe and her husband, Allan, helped create the event at Hudson's, now in its 15th year. This year, Thanksgiving fell on an important date -- Allan's 71st birthday -- Gloria LaCoe said.
Hudson's general manager Andrew Carmines said about 1,600 people were fed Thursday, topping last year's 1,400.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It never gets old. It warms your heart to see all of these people volunteering and enjoying themselves. You need to have a really good time with it. This is one of my favorite things to do ,and it will continue as long as I'm here."
Preparing enough food to feed 1,600 people might seem difficult, but the 420 volunteers helping Thursday made for "smooth sailing," in Carmines' words. Volunteers handled a multitude of tasks, from seating people to distributing the family-style portions of turkey and Thanksgiving fixings.
In the kitchen, Carmines and Hudson's manager Corri McKenzie called out the food needed to be brought out and where it needed to go. A cadre of volunteers carried the meals to the tables and hungry guests. McKenzie has called out food orders for the past five years -- including last year, when she had almost no voice because of an illness -- but has volunteered nearly every year for the past 13 years.
"It does get chaotic sometimes, but it's a good time," McKenzie said. "Everyone is enjoying themselves. The event's blown up since I started volunteering. We have it down to a science now."
St. Joseph, Mich., native Daverly Kozup, at her first Thanksgiving meal at Hudson's, said the family-style meal -- food is served on large platters, and diners make their own portions -- reminded her of her time as a school teacher.
"We used to do family-style lunches at school, so it would be me and 25 kindergarteners," she said. "It's nice to do it with adults. The family-style dining is pretty neat. The food was wonderful."
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.
Volunteers fill stomachs and hearts on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, 2012