Plymouth 400, Inc., the Massachusetts-based nonprofit which since 2009 has led the planning and execution of programs and events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony in 1620 is adjusting to the oft-discussed "new normal."
Pandemic or not, the Plymouth 400 commemoration has begun and will continue, albeit in different ways, through 2021, which is also the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving. History is not only being honored, but it’s being made and Plymouth 400 has made it clear that they intend to be part of it — in the safest, most appropriate ways possible. Transforming actual events into virtual ones and holding live events in 2021 allows the commemoration to move forward while offering an opportunity for businesses to focus on welcoming visitors back in a safe way when the time is right.
While the situation could change based on guidance from local and state officials, the full rundown on Plymouth 400 Signature Events follows:
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THE REVISED PLAN
Indigenous History Conference, Oct. 29-30: Slated to begin on Oct. 29 at Bridgewater State University, the conference is still scheduled as planned but will ultimately be determined by COVID-19 guidelines in the coming months. Plans for a virtual conference are being considered as an alternative to gathering in person.
Illuminate Thanksgiving 2020, Nov. 20-25: This annual tradition will be held as a virtual event with partners from four nations; the Netherlands, UK and Wampanoag tribes. Plymouth International Chorus, Plymouth UK and US public schools, One Small Candle award recipients, interviews, and performances will be included. Programming will be held during Thanksgiving week 2020. NBC10 and PACTV will facilitate the production and broadcast the virtual event. Depending upon public health data and guidelines at that time, some elements of Illuminate Thanksgiving, such as the Procession of Lights, may be held as a limited and appropriately distanced event.
Plymouth 400 Remembrance Ceremony, April 23, 2021: This ceremony will be held with visiting dignitaries and local and State officials to remember the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people of 1620 and their contributions and sacrifices. The ceremony will take place at significant monuments in Plymouth. Details for this event are still being formed.
Wampanoag Ancestors Walk, May 2021: The walk, originally scheduled for August of 2020, will be moved to May, 2021. Final date and details to come.
Official Maritime Salute to the 400th Anniversary, June 25-27, 2021: This large-scale Plymouth waterfront event planned for June 27 and 28 of 2020 has been moved to June 25-27 of 2021. An extra day has been added to include a 400th Anniversary ceremony to kick off the weekend.
Plymouth 400 Commemoration Opening Ceremony: The ceremony, originally scheduled for April 24, 2020, was cancelled. While it is not possible to recreate this event in its entirety, some elements of the ceremony will be incorporated into other events.
Official State House Salute to the 400th Anniversary: Originally scheduled to take place on Sept. 14, 2020, this event is cancelled, with consideration for September of 2021.
Embarkation Multicultural Festival: Originally scheduled for Sept. 19, 2020, this has been cancelled, with elements of the event added to other events.
Thanks to the rich, diverse partnerships the organization has initiated and nurtured for more than a decade, “the 400th anniversary goes well beyond public events alone,” according to executive director Michele Pecoraro, “and the same goes for all four nations involved in this commemoration: the United States, Wampanoag Nation, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Each of the nations will share their unique stories of that pivotal moment that defined the course of world history — but what unites us is an unflinching passion to commemorate the anniversary in the most fitting way possible.”
With the guidelines for social distancing due to the coronavirus the Quadricentennial is also being recognized with legacy projects and online experiences. Plymouth 400’s planning has always been focused on education, legacy projects and awareness building. Many projects continue to take shape as 2020 unfolds including countless educational programs focused on 17th century history.
Some of these initiatives are as follows:
Plymouth 400 Online Educational Resources: Plymouth 400’s deep and diverse network of Organizational Partners, Business Partners, and committee members offer great educational resources to learn about 17th century history. From fun activities for children and families to advanced reading materials for adults, there is something for everyone here.
IlluminateNOW: This social media initiative launched in the spirit of Plymouth 400's signature event, "Illuminate Thanksgiving," invites people to "give thanks, give back and let it shine." This includes putting up white lights as a sign of hope and posting about what individuals are doing in this time of crisis that positively impacts others. Click for more info.
“OUR”Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History: This multimedia traveling museum exhibit is on hold until it can be safely displayed for public visitation and a virtual tour of “OUR”Story is in development. The 1620 story cannot be told without the perspective of the indigenous people who were here as that ship arrived and who still remain. Many of the elements are described and documented here.
Massachusetts Chronicles: Following an extraordinary multiyear collaboration between Plymouth 400, Plymouth Public Schools and Bridgewater State University, this illustrated Massachusetts history book balances historic events in the State, including those of local Native American tribes. The authors, Englishman Mark Skipworth and Mashpee Wampanoag Linda Coombs wrote this first of its kind manuscript which thoughtfully presents key perspectives on Massachusetts history. The book has been published by What On Earth Books and is now available for pre-order through Amazon. Books will be shipped this September and a Teacher’s Guide and Website are being designed.
Quadricentennial Park: Pilgrim Hall Museum and Plymouth 400 have partnered to build a park opposite Cole’s Hill in the heart of historic downtown Plymouth. The park’s intention is to provide an outdoor interpretive experience in view of many of the key markers of 1620 history. Plans have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A required archaeological dig has moved to 2021 with anticipated building of the park in 2022.