Camping Thanksgiving Weekend

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many are planning their celebrations with family and friends. Some are sure to take advantage of the long weekend and plan a camping trip and celebrate a more authentic type of Thanksgiving. And, in New York State the forecast is even cooperating with temperatures expected to be in the high 50’s.

All this preparation for Thanksgiving got me wondering about New York State’s role in the history of the holiday. After all, New York was one of the first states and it has had a role in many of the United States’ most significant historical events.

The History of Thanksgiving

If you’re not familiar with the origins of Thanksgiving or just can’t remember the details from a long ago history class, following is a brief overview. After the Pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower in 1620, they met Native Americans who helped them and taught them how to grow corn, catch fish, and other survival tips. In November of 1621, after a successful corn harvest, the governor of the Plymouth Colony – states were not yet formed – organized a celebratory feast that included the Pilgrims as well as a group of Native Americans who had done so much to help.

After that first Thanksgiving, the holiday did not become a yearly occurrence. A second Thanksgiving was held in 1623 to celebrate the end of a long drought. Following this second Thanksgiving in 1623, the celebration became a yearly or occasional practice for those in New England. In the 1700’s several presidents went on to designate one or more days of Thanks during a year. Finally in 1863, Abraham Lincoln established an official Thanksgiving holiday to be held each year on the final Thursday of November.

New York State’s Role in the History of Thanksgiving

In researching, I discovered that New York State does have an extensive role in the establishment and traditions of Thanksgiving:

  • Prior to Abraham Lincoln establishing Thanksgiving as an official yearly holiday, in 1789, while in New York City, President George Washington designated the first Thanksgiving Day by the national government.
  • New York became the first state to formally appoint an annual Thanksgiving holiday in 1817, with many other states to follow. At this point however, different states still celebrated Thanksgiving on different days and some states still didn’t know what it was.
  • In the 1890’s to celebrate, people in New York City would dress up in masks and costumes and roam the streets serving as the origin for having parades on Thanksgiving.
  • Thereafter, parades became an important component of the Thanksgiving holiday and New York City is host to the largest and most famous Thanksgiving Day parade since 1924, presented by Macy’s.

Celebrate Thanksgiving While Camping

Camping Thanksgiving MealAlthough the official camping season is over, there are still a handful of campgrounds open in New York State and Thanksgiving is a great weekend for camping. You may be looking to get away from the commercialization of Thanksgiving with the Black Friday sales events – some even starting on Thanksgiving Day. Or, maybe you want to go to the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, but want to avoid the high price of a hotel and stay at a campground nearby. The I Love NY website has a great listing of events around the state.

Whatever your motivation, whether you have an RV, are planning on staying in a cabin, or are bringing a tent, you can still prepare a Turkey dinner and some other traditional Thanksgiving meals.

Celebrate this day of thanks by enjoying the beauty and traditions that New York State offer while also recognizing the role that this state played in the establishment of the holiday.


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"Camping for Thanksgiving in New York State"

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