Thousands pack Duke Energy Center to spend Thanksgiving at Fall Feast

Thousands pack Duke Energy Center to spend Thanksgiving at Fall Feast

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The largest Thanksgiving celebration in the Tri-State packed the Duke Energy Center on Thursday.

Fall Feast started in 2005 with just 140 people in Washington Park looking to serve their community on Thanksgiving. Now more than 8,000 spend Thanksgiving together at Fall Feast.

You can feel it the moment you walk through the door. More of a giant family get-together than an event.

"How's it going? Good. Good. Straight on through there," greets Sheldon Leace.

This is Leace's fourth year to volunteer at Fall Feast and says the crowds never stopped coming in since they opened the doors at 9 a.m.

"I greet everyone, give them directions on where they need to go and just want to make sure that everyone feels welcome and appreciated," said Leace.

"I've been called turkey before. This is my first time to dress up as one," said Andy Beckelhymer who spent the day greeting children in the Kid Zone.

Meca Jett could be found all over the place serving a Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and pumpkin pie. She is just one of more than 1,100 volunteers feeding nearly 10,000 Cincinnatians.

"I'm volunteering here. This is my second year and I love it. I'm doing share meal. I'm helping serve. I'm wherever they want me to be," said Jett.

Fall Feast is one of the largest community meals in the country serving families, students and the homeless. All of it is completely free.

"Last year, I think it was thirteen thousand pounds of green beans that were served. 5,000 pounds of turkey. Distributed over 5,000 coats and we expect to do even more than that this year," said Justin Markle, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Duke Energy Convention Center.

This year Fall Feast also featured a free health clinic providing vision, dental and medical checkups including flu shots. More than 300 people received free haircuts. It is a Happy Thanksgiving for those served and those doing the serving.

"It's appreciative when everyone walks out and they say thank you and you know Happy Thanksgiving or Happy Holidays. It makes you feel good inside," said Leace.

Give Back Cincinnati started Fall Feast but says it wouldn't be possible without the help of dozens of businesses and volunteers who took their time to serve on Thanksgiving.

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