HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) — Hilton Head Island is usually popular with tourists year-round, but on Thanksgiving people come from all over the area and the nation for one reason, turkey.

The bird was served up with fun and fellowship at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Hudson’s.

Gloria and Allen LaCoe and some of their friends started the meal as a way to bring folks together on the holiday who might be lonely.

Twenty-three years later, more than 1,600 people come to the Island on the holiday for a feast, and so much more.

Andrew Carmines has run this Hudson’s Seafood on the Dock’s for more than a dozen years, but this year is a little bit special. He has enlisted some help from his two daughters, Millie and Alice–working right next to dad.

“They always wonder where dad is on Thanksgiving and now they know,” said Carmines. 

Millie and Alice Carmines added, “It makes people happy. And they talk to the community and make new friends.”

“We will see how it goes. Maybe one year in the not-too-distant future I can take off a little early,” Carmines said. 

The tables are set up family-style. You may be sitting next to a friend or family member, or a stranger who will then be passing you ham, turkey and all the trimmings.

It has become an event that people from across the state will put on their calendars every year not just for the good food, but for the people.

“This is such a great a great area for the community,” says Gloria LaCoe. “It’s a sense of community the island itself. We do reach beyond the Island, Bluffton, and Beaufort and people come from Savannah. It is a day where we can really give thanks for being here.”

Hudson’s staff takes days to cook up the dozens of turkeys, ham and side dishes and then a team of 350 volunteers serves up the meal to all comers.

The food is free, but the event does benefit three local charities, Bluffton Self Help, Deep Well and Second Helpings. So donations are happily accepted.

The Lima family isn’t going anywhere.

This is their first year volunteering and Mom says it won’t be their last.

“If you start them early then it will stay with them and hopefully when I am sitting at the table they will be serving me. that’s the idea,” Volunteer Alena Lima told WSAV News 3. 

The best idea for everyone here is to enjoy the food and enjoy every moment together.

For more information visit the Community Thanksgiving of Hilton Head Island’s website.