It has been 392 years since the Pilgrims and the Native Americans broke bread together at the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the past and the present blend seamlessly together. Each November on the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Plymouth Recreation Department collaborates with other town government departments and Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum, to present America’s Hometown Thanksgiving, an impressive three-day event that celebrates the history of Thanksgiving and this pivotal seaside town.
About 100,000 to 150,000 people show up each year to join in for the festivities, which include historical re-enactments, a parade, a food festival, concerts and more. The celebration, now in its 18th year, centers around Brewster Gardens, a town park that hosts the event’s Historic Village, and Plymouth Memorial State Park, site of Plymouth Rock and home to the replica Mayflower II.
Much of the Plymouth Recreation Department’s role in this event is behind the scenes: preparing the parks for visitors, keeping trash under control and cleaning up after the event. However, the agency’s facilities hold center stage throughout the weekend.
“I think one thing that makes our event unique is that many of the actual descendants of the original Pilgrims and Native Americans live in Plymouth and the surrounding communities,” says Barry DeBlasio, recreation director. “They often participate in the re-enactments, and it really gives an accurate historical perspective of what it was like at the time.”
Danielle Taylor is the Senior Editor of Parks & Recreation Magazine.