When Tracy Lawrence hosted his first Mission: Possible Turkey Fry in 2006 he likely never imagined how big the event would become. With the 14th annual event now in the books, this year marked Lawrence's biggest to date, with 500 turkeys fried, feeding approximately 6000 people in need.
"I can't begin to express my gratitude to Nashville Rescue Mission, the staff and all of the volunteers who spent many selfless hours giving of themselves for those less fortunate," Lawrence said in a statement about the Mission: Possible Turkey Fry. "I know we were all exhausted when it was over but also very inspired by the love and generosity in everyone's heart. My wish is that we all can keep charity in our hearts throughout the entire holiday season."
Lawrence held the event on Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving, timed to help the entire community usher in the holidays.
"I think this is kind of the unofficial kick-off of the entire holiday season in Nashville, and that's been amazing for me to see over the years," Lawrence told PopCulture.com. "Fourteen years in. This is kind of the marker when Nashville kind of shifts into holiday mode. It's exciting to see that this has become one of those things that's kind of the fabric of downtown Nashville."
The Mission: Possible Turkey Fry began while Lawrence was already helping others in his own community.
"It started off with me and a handful of friends," Lawrence recalled. "We have been cooking turkeys at the house the morning of Thanksgiving and taking orders from old people at church and friends. You know, if you set up, it's just as easy to cook 10 as it is to cook two. And then you can drink two or three more Bloody Marys. So that was kind of where it started.
"And then we thought, 'We love doing stuff for the community. I think this would be a great thing to do,' and a handful of us just decided to get together at the Mission one year and do that," he added. "And it exploded into this thing that's happened. It was just completely organic."
To date, Mission: Possible Turkey Fry has fried more than 65,000 turkeys and served over 93,000 meals. Donations to Nashville Rescue Mission are still being accepted via the event's website.
Photo Credit: Getty / Mindy Small