Letter: Annual potluck a pillar of the Snowmass community
In 2009, the town of Snowmass Village proclaimed the Community Thanksgiving Potluck be dedicated to John Bemis, who “took the initiative to revive the Snowmass Community Thanksgiving Potluck, growing it to the most successful in its history.” What an awesome and unexpected honor. That was three weeks after John was stricken by Multiple System Atrophy, but he was determined to attend and he did with the aid of our great fire department, hospice and the support of the village and friends. Many of the readers may remember that special evening — our family will never forget it. It was the last community event John was able to attend before his death in 2012.
Potluck dinners have a long history in Snowmass Village when the first organized community Thanksgiving dinners were sponsored by the Snowmass Chapel and Community Center in the 1980s. The trustees furnished the turkeys and hams that were carved by Michael Shore and Bill Boineau, and attendees brought “a dish to pass.” The first year we sat at four or five round tables in the back of the chapel between the pews and the library shelves. The attendance was surely not more than 40 to 50 folks. It was all about the community and sitting down together to celebrate Thanksgiving.
As the tradition grew beyond the capacity of the chapel facilities, there was the possibility that the dinner would be discontinued. John was very upset, to say the least. Before long he was talking to the rotary, the town, the chapel community, the conference center, to Harold Arnold to furnish the turkeys and hams, and working with Allison Campbell, who was invaluable as he tackled the chore of a new venue. I apologize for omitting anyone involved in those first dinners. It was a special mission for John. His vision was that locals, second homeowners, visitors and young people who were just arriving to work on the mountain would all sit down together and celebrate as a community. It also was important to him that we enjoy “real dishes, silverware, glassware, tablecloths and cloth napkins” for a holiday meal. Paper plates and plastic utensils were not high on his list.
The dedication that year was an unexpected honor for John, and he would be surprised that his name is still on the banner. He would thank the sponsors who continue to make the Sunday night before Thanksgiving Day a very special time in our village for our community. He would be one of the first to say, “Let’s dedicate the dinner this year to someone with outstanding community spirit or some one we should honor.”
The Bemis family is very proud of what John did almost 10 years ago but we aren’t surprised that he tackled the job; he is our hero. Thank you all for being supportive of John and our family for so many years. We are grateful and blessed to live in the community of Snowmass Village. Mark your calendars: Nov. 24, 2019. See you there.
Joan M. Bemis and family
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