- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

D.C. firefighter Brett Sutor was about to sample some expensive Thanksgiving Day pie courtesy of a well-stocked trailer in front of the Four Seasons Hotel when his radio crackled with a call for a firetruck.

"That's you, guys," Capt. Ken Crosswhite shouted from a nearby table, as the half-dozen firefighters abandoned their gourmet meals, a treat for public servants the firefighters, police officers and Metro employees working the holiday.

Quite a few area residents spent their holiday yesterday away from the dining table running charity races, feeding the homeless and delivering food to people with life-threatening illnesses.

In the past, city workers were lucky if someone remembered to bring over some chow while they worked their shift. This year, a trailer set up outside the Four Seasons, at 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, was a main stop for more than 300 holiday workers.

The management of the Four Seasons, dressed up in pilgrim costumes, served up a menu that included turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, butternut squash, crab soup, mashed potatoes and freshly baked breads.

"And we have every kind of pie you can think of," said Tricia Messerschmitt, the hotel's director of public relations. She wore a traditional black-and-white pilgrim-style dress while pointing out the delicacies.

"We wanted this to be an extra special 'thank you' for all of the men and women who work hard every day of the year to make sure the city is safe," Mrs. Messerschmitt said.

Before he took off behind the wheel of a firetruck, Mr. Sutor a 19-year veteran of the department, said it had been a slow Thanksgiving Day.

"It's great being served, having food brought out to you," Mr. Sutor said of the "fantastic food."

"You can't ask for more than that. It's good to see the community look out for us," he said.

Kimberly Reed, a five-year veteran of Metro, said she has worked on several Thanksgivings and appreciated the special meal.

"It's nice to see people care about us when we're away from our families as we're taking them to and from their families," said Mrs. Reed, who worked from 4:30 p.m. to midnight.

Earlier in the day, roughly 5,500 people came out to Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, Md., for the 18th Annual Turkey Chase 10 kilometers race to raise money for programs such as crisis intervention and youth summer camps at the Bethesda/ Chevy Chase YMCA.

Runners donned sweats, running pants and wool hats to brave the cold weather, as the starting gun cracked at 8:45 a.m.

The event was divided into two groups a 10K race for serious runners and a two-mile "fun run" for novices and families. In the short race, a half dozen Cub Scouts from Pack 1461 carried their flag as they walked, parents pushed baby strollers, and one man even jump-roped his way along.

One of the first over the finish line in the 10K was 19-year-old Ricky Moore of Wheeling, W.Va., with a time about 33 minutes.

"My lungs are still burning for air," Mr. Moore said.

Less competitive, but no less spirited, was the Block family of Brookville, Md. Gary and Daina Block, and their three daughters Krista, 12, Aleksa, 9, and Mikaila, 4 all took part in the fun run.

"We do it every year, pretty much," Mr. Block said. "We say every year we're going to do the 10K, but we want everyone to be able to do it."

Krista and friend, Brittany Payne, 12, seemed the most ready to tackle the 10K next year.

"It was fun because we almost beat [our mother] and she's a good runner," Krista said.

"It didn't seem like a mile," Krista added, while her sister Mikaila nodded from her stroller.

Parishioners at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Midlothian, Va., made sure that about 40 homeless people were able to celebrate the holiday. Through the Caritas program, which helps churches aid the homeless, St. Mark's has housed about 40 people per night since Saturday in its fellowship hall, said organizer Brenda Campbell.

"On Thanksgiving, they don't go back downtown they stay here all day," Miss Campbell said. "They have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner."

Volunteers drive the people to a nearby YMCA every night so that they can take showers. "We'll also hit the Laundromat," Miss Campbell said.

In the District, hundreds of volunteers woke early to prepare meals for people homebound because of life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS.

At Food and Friends, 58 L St. SE, volunteers made Thanksgiving feasts for 2,000 people yesterday. The Thanksgiving meal drop is in its 12th year and has grown, in tons, each year.

Three tons of turkey, 100 gallons of gravy, 750 pounds of sweet potatoes and 600 pounds of collard greens made their way out the door in the course of the day.

"We give them enough food so that they can host Thanksgiving in their own homes," said Craig M. Shniderman, the group's executive director.

Alice Weiss, who works for the Department of Labor and volunteers in the kitchen in her spare time, spent her morning bagging turkeys.

"I think it's the best way to spend the holiday," she said.

• This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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