Talking turkey: Kiwanis to fry more than 700 _lowres

Photo provided by Dawn Busters Kiwanis Club -- Kiwanis members and volunteer helpers expect to fry 700 turkeys.

Once a year for the past decade, starting in the wee hours of the morning, members of the Dawn Busters Kiwanis Club have gathered on the day before Thanksgiving to begin preparing for a turkey fry. But this is not your ordinary fry.

They’ll be cooking more than 700 of the birds. And it’s all done for a good cause.

The Dawn Busters Kiwanis Club’s annual fried turkey fundraiser will be held Nov. 25 at the Lions Club Home, 1627 Metairie Road, in Old Metairie. The birds, which weigh 12-14 pounds each, are injected with seasoning and then fried in cottonseed oil. Each turkey costs $47, and anyone ordering 10 or more will receive free delivery.

Co-chairmen of the turkey fry are Dawn Busters Jim Cicero and Lee Ayo.

“This year, we have 755 turkeys to fry,” Ayo said. “And we will buy a few extras as well, just in case we get more orders than we expect.”

The Kiwanis partner with members of the Krewe of Carrollton, who help fry the turkeys. Also volunteering are students from high school Key Clubs at East Jefferson, Grace King, Ridgewood Prep, Ecole Classique and Mount Carmel Academy, along with various middle school students who are members of the Dawn Busters’ Builders Clubs.

“These kids are an integral part of the turkey fry,” said Mel Dussel, a past president of the Dawn Busters who serves on its board of directors. “What the students do is, on the Monday night before Thanksgiving, they come to the Lions Club to start putting together special boxes used for each fried turkey.

“Then throughout the day on Wednesday, these kids basically do everything. They help take the turkeys out of the wrapper and then thoroughly clean them. Meanwhile, some of them are putting together more boxes, and when the turkeys are cooked, the kids box them, seal the boxes and, many times, help bring the boxes to the car. They also help clean up when everything is done.”

Dussel said it takes about 150 volunteers each year to put the event together.

“It is a huge undertaking, but it’s a great project,” Dussel said.

Proceeds from the event go to several community service projects of the Dawn Busters, including its Reward for Reading program for elementary and middle school students in Jefferson Parish.

“Since the program began about nine years ago, the students who participated have read well over 1.7 million books,” said Dussel, chairman of the program. “A child reads a book and then takes a test on what he or she has read. Then the club members go to all of the participating schools to give gifts to those Jefferson Parish students who successfully complete the program.

“We donate bicycles, helmets and media players as rewards for reading books. And we also give gift certificates to CiCi’s Pizza, passes for bowling at AMF All Star Lanes in Kenner and thousands of passes to Zephyr baseball games.”

To order a fried turkey, go online to Dawn Buster website www.dawnbusters.org/turkey. And for information, call Ayo at (504) 481-8671 or Cicero at (504) 444-9764.

“The pickup time is usually between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.,” Ayo said. “When you place an order, you can usually select your own pickup time based on the date the order is placed.”