For the 5th consecutive year Tony Ballesteros, and his growing group of volunteer “Pilgrims”, prepared and served a Thanksgiving feast to over 150 workers at the Sonoran Spa condominium resort on Sandy Beach here in our little slice of paradise by the sea. Local owner and photographer, Tony Ballesteros, began this Thanksgiving gesture five years ago to thank the employees and families for their hard work and positive attitudes keeping the beach front condominium resort sparkling clean and smooth running throughout the year.
Tony flew solo the first year with a couple of turkeys and his (should be) patented homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and fresh bread with pumpkin pie for dessert. He delivered most of the dinners and many more were served in his condo that year. It was quickly obvious that he not only needed a larger area to serve the anticipated growth of thankful Spa employees, but he would also need some help, which he recruited with surprising ease. He had invited many of his friends, fellow owners at the Spa, to stop by and share Thanksgiving dinner with him. Several of them asked if they could help next year even as they enjoyed their dinner.
Thus, a small gesture of appreciation for the workers Tony had met over the years at his retirement abode has grown larger and more elaborate each year, becoming a veritable banquet of Thanksgiving joy and sharing for hundreds of locals, families and friends.
The group of volunteers now number into the dozens, many of whom spend Thanksgiving week in Puerto Peñasco with their primary purpose to serve as a Pilgrim for this event. Tony “officially” christened the volunteers as “Pilgrims” about three years ago and the resort itself gladly turned over the sparkling reception area to provide seating for over a hundred guests. This year some even had a short wait until seats became available. All had a great time complimenting the chef and head Pilgrim, Tony, on the special flavor of his Turkeys (this year numbering 11-10 and one backup, each over 20 pounds) and the succulence of that secret stuffing recipe he labors over for two days prior to Thanksgiving. Tony also soaks his turkeys in an original recipe brine that contributes to the overall deliciousness. Pilgrims volunteer to bring down turkeys of 20 pounds and above and Tony along with other volunteers shop locally for all the other ingredients, including 50 pounds of white potatoes which are hand cut, boiled and mashed by Pilgrims on the morning of the event to insure they are fresh and worthy of the hot homemade gravy.
In five years the Sonoran Spa Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving has become a bonafide tradition which is anticipated by employees and residents alike. This year’s count was over 150 plus many dinners that were taken to family members who couldn’t make the event.
Meanwhile, at the Sonoran Sun Resort Condominiums, a similar Thanksgiving tradition takes place. Eight years ago, as a gesture of appreciation for the employees who worked on Thanksgiving Day, owners, Janet and Brad Mooneyham cooked up a couple of Turkeys for everyone. It, too, has grown every year in popularity and size. Now many owners volunteer to bring turkeys, side dishes and desserts and help prepare and serve them to the employees and their families in a buffet format, which this year was attended by well over a hundred locals and volunteer owners. At the Sun, they also invite the children of the employees. A few years ago they hung a Turkey piñata for the kids that has become a tradition. This year the group of volunteer owners brought stuffed animals for the kids, and donated funds to pay for a mariachi group to sing and play for everyone. They also rented a jumping castle this year that went over big for the youngsters.
This year they consumed an arsenal of eight turkeys and four hams along with all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings and desserts. It has become a tradition that is equally anticipated by the owners, employees and their families each year.
Sharing a purely North American festivity like Thanksgiving has created a cultural tie that enhances social understanding between the people of the two countries most of us love the most, and promotes new and lasting friendships among us all.
There’s no better example of the generosity of our Sonoran Resorts owners. You are all much appreciated!
This article is brought to you by the Sonoran Resorts Sales Group, www.sonoranresorts.mx, Jim Ringquist, Director of Sales and Marketing.