FLORENCE — Brittany Ashley feared the worst when rain chased the annual 1 Table Florence indoors from its traditional Mobile Plaza location.

As it turns out, she had nothing to fear as 900 people showed up for the event, far outnumbering what was expected.

"Isn't that crazy?" said Ashley, a coordinator for 1 Table. "We are very proud of our city, that's for sure. It was a good day."

Thursday's attendance is by far the largest turnout in the three years of 1 Table, which is a free Thanksgiving-style meal with seating along a long stretch of tables that form into a single table. Still, there was enough food to go around.

"It always works out," Ashley said.

The first two years of the event were held on Mobile Plaza, but First United Methodist Church downtown opened its gym due to the rain. Weather permitting, it will return to Mobile Plaza in 2020.

The event was organized with its "no cost, no catch, no agenda" tagline as an opportunity for the community to get together as one.

"There's not many days that you have with just the general public that are pure, and this is nothing but a pure day," Ashley said. "That's what it is, and everybody showed up.

"Several people said, 'I came here today to restore my faith in humanity. People are good and people are loving, and I came here to reassure myself of that.'"

That was apparent through the smiles, hugs and warmness among family, friends and strangers alike.

Sheldale Turner and Teresa Crosslin sat across from each other and chatted like old friends.

"We didn't know each other before today," Crosslin said. "This is a good place to come and meet people and come together."

Turner said her favorite part of the event is "meeting people you wouldn't normally meet."

They said this also can serve as a Thanksgiving feast for people who aren't going to be able to enjoy one on Thanksgiving.

"The family dinner aspect of it is a cool part," Turner said.

The tables were covered with paper, and crayons were sprinkled around for people to write on the paper.

Drawings of everything from hearts to turkeys soon adorned the covers, as did comments such as "Look what loves does," "thank you! Awesome!" and "Let us give thanks."

Sandy Patterson and Ann Foster sat next to each other, talking, eating and taking in the scene.

"It's a treat," Foster said. "This is our first year. It's a dinner for everybody and we are enjoying it."

This also was the first year Brian and Megan Puckett attended.

"I love Florence and this describes Florence in such a good way," Megan Puckett said.

"It's great because Florence has a real active community, and sometimes all it takes is an event like this to bring people out," Brian Puckett added.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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