In South Philly, customers braved rain and social distancing restrictions to keep up a Thanksgiving tradition

by 24USATVNov. 26, 2020, 8 p.m. 21
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Cacia Bakery’s Thanksgiving turkeys are famous throughout South Philly — so famous, that fourth-generation baker Joe Cacia spotted their first customer lining up at 4 in the morning.

“She sat there with her turkey for two hours on a stool,” Cacia said. “In the pouring rain.”

She was soon joined by dozens of others, who in the pre-dawn hours formed the longest (socially distanced) line Cacia says he’s ever seen.

Cacia, by the way, says customers don’t have to do that. “You don’t have to come at four or five in the morning,” he said. “We’ve never run out of room.”

Still, it’s a testament to the popularity of the bakery’s annual turkey-roasting tradition, which Cacia’s grandfather started in the 1960s.

“The basic idea of this is to save room in your oven,” Cacia said. “Most people don’t want the hassle of watching it, and they want to go do other things. So this is a good thing for them to do.”

Customers bring their turkeys pre-dressed, and for a flat fee of $26, snag a spot inside Cacia’s large-scale roasting operation.

By mid-morning, the bakery had 75 turkeys roasting inside their two massive ovens, all lined up like an army of foil-covered soldiers.

A straggler appeared shortly after 9 a.m., with a turkey ready to go in a foil roasting pan. Her name was Dana Stowe.

“I’m trying to help my dad,” Stowe said, Cacia handed her a numbered ticket for her turkey. “I don’t usually celebrate the holidays, but he’s home with surgery. So due to COVID and all that, we’re bringing Thanksgiving to him.”

Stowe says she heard about the turkey-roasting operation on the news, but was already a fan of Cacia’s.

“My grandma used to live in South Philly, so I used to come here all the time,” she said. “They’re the best.”

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