Thanksgiving turns Auburn bar into reunion hotspot Wednesday

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Thanksgiving time is also reunion time for the more than 1,000 people an Auburn bar is expecting for what started 14 years ago as an impromptu gathering but has turned into a Wednesday-before-Turkey-Day tradition. Pistol Pete’s Brew & Cue in Downtown Auburn has played host to the unofficial multi-class reunion since it started spontaneously one Wednesday before Thanksgiving soon after the Harrison Street establishment opened its doors. Anticipating its annual crush of mostly Placer High School grads – bolstered by a respectable smattering of former Del Oro and Bear River students now of drinking age – the bar will pull out most of its tables and install tenting outside to create two more bar sales stations. At about 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the first groups of reunion goers – both from Auburn and from points far afield back visiting family for Thanksgiving – will begin to arrive, paying a $10 cover charge. The band Plex – playing mostly 1980s and 1990s rock will soon rev up the party atmosphere – and deejay Rick Lopez will provide the beats during breaks and as things wind down around 1:30 p.m. Bartender Jamie Brown, a veteran of three of the reunions, said the kamikazes will be flowing – as well as the spigots on the 24 beers Pistol Pete’s has on tap. “We’ll probably have 1,000 people coming through the doors – some staying for an hour and others for much longer,” Brown said. “This is a good time for all the kids who come back from college and it’s fun. We rarely have any problems.” Over the year, the two biggest nights for the bar are during rodeo week in the spring and the day before Thanksgiving. And it all started out of the blue, with owner Pete Aroz famously having to drive back from Tahoe on Thanksgiving Eve after an anxious, lone bartender on duty that night phoned him to say hundreds of people were unexpectedly converging on Pistol Pete’s. Brown said Wednesday’s event has definitely eclipsed the rodeo night in terms of sheer numbers of participants. Rick Lopez has been attending for eight years and working the turntables as deejay for the last four years. “It’s gotten bigger over the years but remains a mellow night,” Lopez said. Lopez likes the experience because he bumps into people not only that he knew growing up in the Auburn area but also friends he made working at his family’s restaurant, The Jolly Burrito. “It’s been a blast,” Lopez said. “You run into people you haven’t seen for years who are coming home for Thanksgiving. It’s like a gathering place.” Brown said that Sierra Cab will be out in force to help any over-imbibers arrive safely home.