Some people lace up their running shoes and head out for the traditional race.
By LAURA BAUER
The Kansas City Star
Others may sit with the holiday sale ads, combing for deals. And then you have your cookers, the people who occupy a spot in the kitchen and work on the turkey for hours and hours.
But what about dance? Anybody up for some Thanksgiving morning dancing?
For the past five decades, hundreds of people have done just that in Kansas City, the last decade or so in Kansas City, Kan.
“The idea is to keep the blues alive,” said Dana Moses, who with husband Donnie Wilson, were sponsors of this year’s Thanksgiving Breakfast Dance.
There’s little talk about turkey or stuffing inside the Kansas National Guard Armory, that’ll come later in the day. Instead, the focus here is on four hours of live blues music, family and old friends, a few beverages for some and a pretty big dance floor.
“In the morning you party and have fellowship,” Wilson said. “Then you go home and take a nap. And in the evening, you have dinner.”
Some have reserved the same table year after year for decades, bringing their own centerpieces and food and drink.
Others, like Marian and Dennis Roberson, of Olathe, came this year to see what it’s all about. Marian Roberson said they wanted to see Mel Waiters, a blues artist known for his hits “Got My Whiskey” and “Hole in the Wall.”
“And we like to dance,” Dennis piped in.
The Robersons — she in a black-and-white dress with dangling red ear rings and he decked out all in red — planned to spend the morning enjoying the music, snacking a bit and then heading to a family dinner at 2 p.m.
“This is fun,” Dennis said, smiling wide. “It’s entertaining, not boring. You get to meet lots of people.”
Then he paused and picked up a groove in the music, raised his hands in the air and danced from his chair.
Through the years there’s been a mix big names and locals bands. Roger Naber went to his first Thanksgiving Breakfast Dance in 1974. In the past 40 years, the self-described blues man has only missed four of the annual holiday breakfasts.
“The goal is to have a nice Blues Thanksgiving party,” said Naber, a former event sponsor for many years.
Those who go, like Jocelyn Gaitan, dress all fancy. Some women bring out the sequins and sparkly, long dresses. Men break out dress hats, colorful pants, even three-piece suits.
“It’s a great opportunity to see and be seen,” Gaitan said, her arms covered in black lace sleeves and her head decorated with a tight black hat with jewels. “It’s a way to kick off the holidays.”
And for Gaitan, a way to celebrate her 61st birthday, which landed on Thanksgiving this year.
As she walked off with a plate of scrambled eggs and sausage, Sandra Mondaine of Grandview sat nearby and moved with the music. Her first time at the Thanksgiving Breakfast Dance, she came as a guest of Ray Sawyer, 75, a regular over the years.
“This has been my table for years,” said Sawyer, dressed in a purple suit with black hat, sitting at the third table back from the stage. As he talked, the band Memphis Mike played “Purple Rain” in the background.
What worries many long time Thanksgiving Breakfast goers is getting the younger generation to understand the tradition and carry it on. But, on Thursday, that was a challenge for another day.
This day, like Thanksgivings in the past five decades, was only about the music.
To reach Laura Bauer, call 816-234-4944 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.