SAN DIEGO -- Around 1,800 people Thursday attended the Salvation Army's 33rd annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego.
More than 300 volunteers served meals beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the Civic Center complex at 202 C St.
"We welcome everyone and it is our great pleasure to provide them with a warm Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls and even pumpkin pie," said Major George Baker, divisional commander of The Salvation Army.
The tradition began when area philanthropist Joan Kroc donated $12,000 to rent the expansive ballroom for a large community dinner so no one would be alone on Thanksgiving. She died in October 2003 at the age of 75.
Kroc, the wife of McDonald's founder and ex-Padres owner Ray Kroc, continued to fund the event and often served meals herself. Guests include seniors with no other place to go, struggling working families, single parents, the homeless and often those who are simply alone on a day of fellowship.
The Salvation Army also served a Thanksgiving meal at its Corps Community Center in Oceanside, 3935 Lake Blvd., beginning at 11 a.m.
Separately, around 300 low-income seniors received a Thanksgiving meal from the nonprofit Serving Seniors. The event began at 11:15 a.m. at the Serving Seniors facility at 1525 Fourth Ave.