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Vogelbaugh Recalls How He Became Mr. Thanksgiving

Bob Vogelbaugh with Vicki Birsell-Baker who has helped him serve almost every year
Michelle O'Neill
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WVIK News
Bob Vogelbaugh with Vicki Birsell-Baker who has helped him serve almost every year

Mr. Thanksgiving and his volunteers are preparing to serve turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and pie to more than 2,000 people. On Thursday, Bob Vogelbaugh will host his 46th annual dinner at South Park Mall in Moline.

Vogelbaugh came up with the idea in 1970 while working at his "mom and pop" grocery store. When he asked his more mature customers what they were doing for Thanksgiving, they told him, "It's just another day to be alone." So, he says a "25-watt bulb" went off and he thought, "That doesn't have to be."

That first year, Voglebaugh served about 12 guests. Every year he emphasizes that the traditional Thanksgiving meal is especially for people who'll be alone. And for many senior citizens, it's a highlight of their social calendar.

South Park Mall will provide the tables and chairs, plus a truck to bring more from North Park Mall. About twelve employees have volunteered their time to go pick them up, deliver them, and set them up in the space in front of Von Maur.

Dinner will be served from 4 until 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day. And those who made reservations will get free bus rides from MetroLink.

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