Courthouse employees share Thanksgiving traditions

Every year in the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. 

Many families have traditions they follow each year, from the foods they eat to the places they gather.

Some of the Perkins County courthouse employees shared their Thanksgiving traditions and memories. 

 Veterans Service Officer

Veterans Service Officer Stephanie Larson was opening the honey-baked ham that had just arrived from

“I love honey-baked everything!” she said. 

One of her greatest memories is when she and her husband, along with her mom, lived in California and invited some of the others in their unit who weren’t going home for Thanksgiving and had a potluck. 

Her favorite memories include prepping food the night before Thanksgiving with her mom before they would go to her aunt’s for a big Thanksgiving. 

Leon Rowley, who was reading the paper and drinking coffee in Larson’s office, served in the navy for 21 years. 

He said he remembers having duty on Thanksgiving, and it was “just a regular duty day.”

They did get to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal in the chow hall, but “nothing really spectacular,” he said. 

Treasurer’s Office

Perkins County Treasurer Julie Sestak’s family tradition is that someone always has to make the pumpkin roll. 

“This year I guess I get to make them,” she said. 

Her favorite memories are having Thanksgiving at her grandma’s house when she was a child with her aunts, uncles and cousins. 

As long as Deputy Treasurer Karrie Dolezal can remember, her parents would get up at 5 a.m. to make stuffing, stuff the turkey and put it in the oven. 

“When it started getting more and more cooked, they would haul it out and eat this big mound of stuffing that had been stuck on the outside of the bird,” she laughed. “Every year.”

Dolezal said her dad is the stuffing expert, and she’s looking forward to it again this year. 

Clerk’s Office

County Clerk Rita Long said they eat turkey and dressing and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

With two brothers and her dad, “I remember as a little girl they always watched the Detroit Lions get smoked on Thanksgiving Day,” she laughed.

She used to make popcorn balls with her mom. 

Office Clerk Tammy Gasseling and Perkins County Attorney Legal Assistant Sharon Thurin also enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Deputy Clerk DeeAnn Tatum and her husband Bob organized the community Thanksgiving dinner at the legion hall for 13 years. Their last year was in 2013. 

Tatum enjoys making her homemade cranberry sauce each year for the holiday. 


County Assessor Peggy Burton is particular about her dressing. 

“It has to be mine, which is my mom’s recipe,” she said. 

She makes it from scratch with croutons, onions and celery sauteed in butter. In addition to broth, she also adds a can of cream of chicken soup to make it extra moist.

Her mom used to stuff the turkey with it, and she thinks that’s the best way. 

They cook their turkey on the grill to free up the oven. 

Thanksgiving Timeline

1621 – Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated a harvest feast (known as the first “Thanksgiving”) in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

1630 – Settlers observed the first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England on July 8, 1630.

1777 – While in route to Valley Forge, George Washington and his army stopped in freezing weather to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America.

1789 – President George Washington declared Nov. 26, 1789, as a national day of “thanksgiving and prayer.”

1863 – President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an official federal holiday.

1876 – The first intercollegiate football championship was held on Thanksgiving Day.

1924 – Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Day parade.

1934 –The first National Football League game held on Thanksgiving Day was between the Detroit Lions who faced the Chicago Bears.

1941 – President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

1947 – President Harry Truman “pardoned” a turkey the day before it was scheduled to be served up as the main course at the White House Thanksgiving dinner. Modern presidents today have carried on the tradition.

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