Surfside Beach continues Thanksgiving traditions with pandemic modifications

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SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Two things will carry on in Surfside Beach this season: holidays and traditions.

For 11 years, Surfside Beach has been home to one of the several Turkey Trot locations on the Grand Strand. Following the Annual Turkey Trot, Neal and Pam’s Bar and Grill will host a 35th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

Some things will look different at both events as COVID-19 modifications are in place.

Participants will start and finish at the Surfside Pier for the 11th Annual Thanksgiving Day run. Race participants in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside, and Florence will have to follow new COVID-19 race protocols.

Runners will not have water stops along the course this year. Coordinators have also organized staggered starts so runners can start at different times and places to avoid congestion.

The Turkey Trot is a tradition for many in Surfside Beach, including Zach Baker, Neal and Pam’s Bar and Grill owner. He took on ownership of the bar about ten years ago welcomes Turkey Trot runners for breakfast and coffee as they cross the finish line.

“A lot of folks just come over from the turkey trot and have turned that into an annual tradition where they come in, have breakfast, drink apple cider mimosas, and then go home and cook Thanksgiving dinner with their family… but a lot of people stay all day long,” Baker said.

Neal and Pams is open year-round, even on the holidays. For over three decades, the bar has served a complimentary Thanksgiving meal. It is a community tradition that started in 1985 and lives on today.

“It’s just a tradition that’s grown over the years,” Baker said.

The original owner, Neal, and his wife Pam started the community tradition back in the ’80s.

“Neal passed away, but Pam still comes in every day,” Baker said.

Restaurant and bar owners are the first to say this year has been full of doubts. When an event only happens once a year, some changes had to take place to accommodate pandemic precautions and continue the traditions of the town.

“It is usually a potluck where everyone brings covered dishes, and we would handle the turkey and dressing, and we have mountains of food,” Baker said.

Due to COVID-19, there will be no potluck. Instead, Neal and Pam’s will be providing the entire free thanksgiving meal and preparing it behind the kitchen.

“I’ve watched kids grow up that are now in college that started coming here during Thanksgiving, and it is just a tradition they want to carry on with their family every year,” Baker said.

Neal’s daughter, Aimee, still works at Neal and Pam’s and will be apart of the Thanksgiving tradition.

The complimentary Thanksgiving dinner starts at 1:30 and goes on until it runs out.

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