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11-23-07 Thanksgiving in St Marys Georgia at the Riverview Hotel –Great Place!

We enjoyed sight seeing and much sea food in St Marys. We often ate at the Riverview Hotel restaurant, Seagle's Waterfront Café where many hikers and Cumberland visitors would eat a big breakfast before going to the Ferry.

AVOC

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November 23, 2007

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Thanksgiving in St Marys Georgia at the Riverview Hotel –Great Place!

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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An AP story headline from the Florida Times-Union caught my eye this morning.   It described how boaters have made St Marys, GA, a “Port of Thanksgiving” and it is centered at the Riverview Hotel.

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We spent many nights at the Hotel in the 80’s on GA-FLA game weekends.   Betty, Jennifer and I and friends stayed there for years.   Most of us were GA fans but some were for FL and it was good-natured fun with everybody showing their colors.We stopped going only when the schedule changed and for a couple of years, the game was played at home fields.

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Riverview Balcony

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Riverview Lounge – Typical for a GA-FL weekend – Jerry Brandon 2nd from right

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In the early 80’s, the City and Camden County really grew with the buildup of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.It was nearby and many Navy Personnel would visit the Riverview.

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We got to know Jerry Brandon and his family and others who made the annual trek.   A couple of times, we took the Ferry, which was across the street, to Cumberland Island.

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We enjoyed sight seeing and much sea food in St Marys.   We often ate at the Hotel restaurant, Seagle's Waterfront Café where many hikers and Cumberland visitors would eat a big breakfast before going to the Ferry.  

 

Seagles Restaurant Entrance

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St Mary’s and Riverview are some of my favorite places!   It is great to know they are still thriving!

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Thanksgiving in St Mary’s, Georgia 2007

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Photos by RICK WILSON/The Times-Union
Ken Hix of Breckenridge, Colo., (left) and Linda Williford and Randy McClain of Anderson, S.C., sit on benches outside the Riverview Hotel in St. Marys Thursday as they enjoy Thanksgiving Day dinner. Mariners from as far away as New Zealand joined together for a potluck dinner and celebration of food and friendship at the event, which drew approximately 270 people.

 

The Florida Times-Union

http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/112307/geo_219879863.shtml

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November 23, 2007

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Port of Thanksgiving

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By Gordon Jackson, The Times-Union

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ST. MARYS - Celebrating Thanksgiving while sailing to the Bahamas was an afterthought to Dave Register when he was looking for a safe port from a nor'easter six years ago.
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Register, originally from Seattle, just wanted a place to ride out the storm the day before Thanksgiving.

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But when people learned he and several other boaters were stranded until the storm passed, they suggested a potluck dinner to celebrate the holiday.

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Since boaters typically don't have ovens large enough to cook a turkey, residents offered to do it if the boaters brought side dishes.

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Jerry Brandon, owner of the Riverview Hotel in St. Marys, offered to let the boaters celebrate the holiday in his lounge before it opened for business.

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Six years later, Register still makes St. Marys a regular stop to celebrate Thanksgiving at the hotel. But he now has lots of company, and the boaters have a lot more choices in food.

Residents, however, still cook the meat for the meal each year.

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The event has grown from 15 people showing up the first year to an estimated 150 last year. Thursday's event attracted as many as 270 boaters headed south for the winter, in what many in attendance said is one of the largest holiday celebrations for boaters on the Eastern Seaboard.

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"I'm dumbfounded and impressed the way the downtown area supports this kind of invasion," Register said.

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Word has spread about the celebration by boaters talking on their radios as they head south for the winter. In some instances, the boaters have talked with each other on their radios but had never met each other in person. In other instances, it was a chance to renew old friendships.

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"I've seen at least 10 people here who are friends that I didn't know were coming," said Helen Hansen of Houston. "It's a great time. A lot of fun."

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Every table in Brandon's restaurant, lounge and patio was set up to accommodate the boaters. When organizers realized they were going to have a record crowd, they set up tables on the sidewalk outside the hotel to ensure everyone had a seat. Brandon said boaters began arriving in town a week ago for the event.

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"This is a surprise, but I'm surprised every year at the way it's grown," Brandon said. "We might have to have two seatings next year."

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The line of boaters waiting to fill their plates stretched a block, with many expressing surprise at the selection and quality of food.

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New Zealand native Doon Kelly said she learned about the celebration while sailing toward the Bahamas and decided to check out why everyone was talking about stopping in St. Marys for the holiday.

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Besides a meal that included 17 turkeys, four hams, 26 pies, dozens of size dishes and gravies, and every imaginable dessert, Kelly said she has met a lots of people in person for the first time that she has talked with on the radio on her sailboat, Bold Endeavor.

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"I made a lot of new friends and met a lot of old friends, unexpectedly," she said. "It's very kind for the people here to put this on. It's a lot like Christmas."

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Jacque Craig said she and her husband, Chuck Craig, were among the first-timers to attend the dinner. Craig said her only complaint was the plates weren't large enough to sample many of the dishes served to the boaters.

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Of course, a wheelbarrow wouldn't be large enough to sample every dish served, she conceded.

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"It's not fair," she said of the selection. "There's too much to choose from."

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The swelling attendance is making organizers wonder how much larger the event will grow because most people who showed up said they plan to return next year, and more boaters are certain to follow.

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St. Marys resident Charlie Jacobs cooked the first turkey for boaters six years ago. He said he never expected the event to grow the way it has in such a short time.

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"I expected another 30 or 40 people more than last year," he said. "If this keeps growing, we may have to close the street and put up a tent to handle the crowd."

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gordon.jackson@jacksonville.com

(912) 729-3672

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This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at
http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/112307/geo_219879863.shtml.

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Thanksgiving Preparation in Riverview 2007

P.J. Fields, a St. Marys resident and four-year volunteer at the potluck dinner, carves one of the turkeys he prepared for boaters.

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Boats docking for Thanksgiving

Photos by RICK WILSON/The Times-Union
Mariners Doon (left) and Roy Kelly from New Zealand look for a place to tie up their dinghy after arriving from their sailboat at the docks in St. Marys. The Kellys were among about 270 people who joined together for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner at the Riverview Hotel Thursday. The event has grown steadily every year by word-of-mouth through sailing circles since its inception six years ago.

P.J. Fields, a St. Marys resident and four-year volunteer at the potluck dinner, carves one of the turkeys he prepared for boaters.


Riverview Hotel

St Marys, Georgia

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Located on the waterfront
105 Osborne Street
St. Marys, GA  31558

http://riverviewhotelstmarys.com/

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Built in 1916, the Riverview Hotel rests on the banks of the St. Marys River, closest lodging to the ferry dock and Visitor Center for Cumberland Island National Seashore. It has been owned and operated by the Brandon Family since the 1920's. Sallie Brandon purchased the Hotel with the help of her two sisters, Miss Semora and Miss Ethel, establishing a reputation as hospitable hostesses, transforming guests into friends. Southern style cooking drew many St. Mary's families away from their own dining room tables, and visitors found a home away from home. The hotel is operated in the same warmth and tradition today as in yester year.

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Riverview Water Color on Website 


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