Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Here’s your chance to talk cooking with Joe Maddon
Posted Feb 3, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated Feb 3, 2011 at 11:34 AM
Hitting coach Derek Shelton (left) and Joe Maddon cook for Maddon’s 2010 “Thanksmas.”
Joe Maddon will serve up his traditional “Thanksmas” meal at this year’s Fan Fest, presented by MetroPCS on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 at Tropicana Field. Fan Fest is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
A limited number of fans will have the opportunity to chat with Maddon over a plate of his homemade spaghetti, meatballs, sausage and pierogies, a meal he has served at area homeless shelters over the last five winters as part of his Thanksmas initiative. Meals also include salad, mixed desserts, water and soda.
Maddon’s feast will be served at Tropicana Field’s Batter’s Eye Restaurant from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $30 when purchased in advance through raysbaseball.com, or $40 at the door. Tickets for children 14 and under are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. Tickets are limited and subject to availability. All proceeds from this event will go to the Salvation Army Centers in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Bradenton and the Rays Baseball Foundation.
Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets to win prizes including a catered luxury suite experience at a 2011 Rays home game, autographed memorabilia and more.
Fans may call 888-FAN-RAYS or log on to raysbaseball.com for more information about 2011 Rays Fan Fest.
For the past five winters, Maddon and a band of Rays employees shop, cook and serve his traditional meal to hundreds of needy citizens throughout the Tampa Bay area from Tampa to Fort Myers. To date, some 4,000 meals have been served. The idea is not to provide a holiday meal — it always occurs between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hence the name Thanksmas — but rather to emphasize that homeless shelters are filled every day.
Maddon first conceived of his annual Thanksmas project in 2006 with the purpose of bringing awareness to the homeless situation in Tampa Bay. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, there were nearly 24,000 homeless in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties in 2010, nearly half of those in Hillsborough alone.
“The homeless issue gets its most attention at the holidays, but these folks are in the same situation on February 15 or July 20,” says Maddon. “I really challenge people that if you do this for one day, you’ll become more empathetic to the situation and want to volunteer more time or do whatever you possibly can do to help.”