Blackies Thanksgiving Party: A Short History

One of Newport’s most endearing memories for those who don’t have local family or those who consider locals their family is the Blackies “Come get wasted while your turkey is being basted” celebration.

This mouthful celebrates its 20 year anniversary tomorrow!

The 2-decade old tradition celebrates Thanksgiving the way the pilgrims did: sharing abundance with the locals– and even some of the newbies coming in on their fancy boats and funny hats.

How it started is a true local tradition.  By everyones record who I have spoken with, it all began with a single guy: Doug Rugg.

Despite having undoubtedly the coolest name in Newport, Doug Rugg is also known around town for his love of cars.  Fancying myself a budding car guy, I broke the ice by telling Doug all about my first car: A Ford Pinto.  He was not impressed.  Some car guy he is!

I asked the hard hitting questions that any true journalist would pose to a subject this demanding, and without flinching, I asked “So how’d this Thanksgiving/Blackies thing start?”.  Doug replied with the following:

“21 years ago Blackies was not open on Thanksgiving day but my tradition had always been to go out on Thanksgiving eve and have somewhere between 2 to 20 beers, then grab my wife to go shopping for all the turkey fixings.

I would prepare the turkey that evening and put it in the icebox till Thanksgiving morning.

Thanksgiving morning, we would wake up put it in the oven and I would have about a five hour gap while the turkey was being basted.

20 years ago, I mentioned this to Fred, the bartender at Blackies at the time, and asked him if I could pay him any amount of money to open the doors “tomorrow”– Thanksgiving day.

Fred said he said he was a vegetarian and did not care about turkey or dressing and he would open without any payment as long as the tips were good.

This was the start of “Come get wasted while your turkey is being basted’!”

If you’ve ever been suckered into coming out on Thanksgiving to Blackies, it is a warm, filling, wonderful evening with lots of fond memories being shared.  And don’t worry: you find the time to get it in while your turkey is being basted!



About Mike Glenn

Mike is the founder and publisher of Save Newport and Chair of Government Relations for the Elks Lodge. He writes, shoots photos, and edits, but much of the time, he's just "the IT guy". He can be reached at: Google+, Facebook, or via email, at