It wasn’t the first time the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA campground near Watsonville, Calif., hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for its guests. But it was one of the biggest.
Montana Hutton, who’s been in charge of the kitchen for the past three years, prepared 14 turkeys — twice as many as usual — when he saw how many people had made campground reservations, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Between 350 and 400 people were staying at the local KOA, which has filled its RV spaces but had cabins available.
The kitchen is small — one oven and a BBQ – but Hutton, who sports a white beard and spectacles, figured out how to move the turkeys along.
“I do them in batches,” he said, starting five years earlier to cook the birds. He also cooked up dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, green bean casseroles and pumpkin pie. The families who came brought a side dish to share. Tables to seat 180 were set up in the recreation hall, where the lights of the arcade games flashed, and families served themselves buffet style.
“Wow, this looks good,” said one man, surveying the bounty and rubbing his hands together in expectation.
“Wasn’t it thoughtful?” asked Greg Seeba, a deputy sheriff from Ventura County, who is staying in one of the rustic cabins with his family. With his children out of school all Thanksgiving week, Seeba decided it was a good opportunity to get away.
The hospitality at Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA is due to general manager Sally Phillips, 61, who has 24 years of experience in the industry. She joined KOA in Niagara Falls and came to Santa Cruz three years ago. Last year she was chosen KOA manager of the year.
“I’m grateful for what I have – family and friends,” she said with a smile. “Every day is different. I love the people.”
Even if it means rustling up turkeys for them.