Annual turkey giveaway packs the predawn Square
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
They were ready. They were bundled in heavy coats against the 37-degree predawn temperatures. They were masked (mostly) against the possibility of COVID-19. They’d arrived either early or on time for the 6 a.m. start. And when the moment came, Darlington-area residents eagerly but politely seized their frozen turkey. Darlington’s annual Turkey Giveaway on the Public Square was held Nov. 24, two days before Thanksgiving. The math worked out just about right, said Darlington chiropractor David Eads, who spearheads the project: About 800 people showed up, and organizers had brought about 800 turkeys. Even though COVID-19 has left millions across the nation jobless and in need of aid from food banks and food giveaways, the turkey turnout this year was not as high as some previous years, Eads said. He said he’d seen crowds of 1,000 or so before. Still, the line last week stretched nearly three blocks long at one point, perhaps lengthened by efforts to “social distance.” Eads said he was somewhat surprised by the awareness of COVID-19 safety precautions among the public this year. He said organizers had brought a supply of masks, but “Everybody showed up with one on.” The event was fast, as they usually are. By the time the first school buses began to circle the Public Square, the free turkeys were almost gone. (Each bird also came with canned green beans and a drink.) Eads estimated this was the 16th year for the event, which is aided by a large group of sponsors, donors and volunteers. “We had so much help keeping things straight,” he said.