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Virginia to Celebrate 400th Anniversary of First English Thanksgiving

Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution.
Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution.

There’s one more Thanksgiving event left this year in Virginia, but it doesn’t involve a turkey. 

A year-long celebration of significant historical events that occurred 400 years ago in Virginia will conclude Wednesday with the 400th Commemorative Ceremony of the First Official English Thanksgiving at Jamestown Settlement--which actually took place on Dec. 4, 1619. And it didn’t include a celebratory feast. 

The event will include music and remarks from featured speakers Michelle Gielan, a former CBS News anchor and author of Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change as well as Pamela Northam, the first lady of Virginia. 

The celebration takes place from 2-3 p.m. and is free and open to the public.  

“We really see this as an important moment to give thanks and to recognize the importance of our history, although complicated,” said Kathy Spangler, executive director of the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution

Spangler said the finale event will also feature representatives from the three original cultures, including Chief Steven Adkins of the Chickahominy Tribe. 

“We’ll have a descendant of Captain John Woodlief. Graham Woodlief will represent the English culture. And then Dr. Rex Ellis, who is from Williamsburg, but was very instrumental in the creation of the national museum for African American history and culture will represent the African culture,” Spangler said. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring canned food donations for a food drive.


Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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