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The clocks are pushed back. There’s a chill in the air. And eyes are turning longingly towards stuffing.
Yes, Thanksgiving will soon arrive, bringing with it parades, extended family time and all kinds of incredibly delicious food.
Massachusetts rich tradition and historic relationship with Turkey Day is well known, of course, as the first ever Thanksgiving was held in Plymouth. This year, Plymouth will again host America’s Hometown Thanksgiving, which is setting its sights higher than ever before.
For those who are looking for a more original holiday experience, however, there will also be some more creative celebrations across the Commonwealth.
Here’s a look at five that will each offer something different.
Festival of Trees in Methuen, MA
A tree festival might sound more like something that takes place in December but it arrives earlier than that in the Merrimack Valley. For November’s end, schools, businesses and residents from the area combine their efforts to produce a spectacular Festival of Trees, which will be on display this year from November 22 through December 6.
Photo: A sneak preview of the 2014 show via Facebook
All in all, there will be more than 200 trees, wreaths and decorations on hand, which passersby do have a chance to take home, too. Raffle tickets buy a chance at three different prizes, with the proceeds going towards preserving the region’s heritage. Directions to visit can be found here, and the Days Hotel can be found just a five-minute drive away.
Parade of the Big Balloons in Springfield, MA
Springfield has its own answer to Macy’s famous parade floats. The Cat in the Hat and the man who created him came from this Pioneer Valley city, so Springfield pays homage each year with the Parade of the Big Balloons in Tower Square.
Photo: Yogi Bear in full flight at the Parade of the Big Balloons via Facebook
The 2014 procession kicks off at 11 a.m. on November 28, the day after Thanksgiving, for its promenade down Main Street. While there, onlookers can also take in marching bands, a drop in from Santa and plenty more, too. To extend your stay in Springfield, the Springfield Marriott is right next to the site of the festivities.
Zoolights in Stoneham, MA
Thanksgiving heralds the return of Zoolights, one of the Stone Zoo’s most eagerly anticipated annual events. Twinkling lights guide guests along the tree-lined paths, which lead to reindeer, arctic foxes, bald eagles, porcupines, lynx and more.
Photo: Zoolights at the Stone Zoo via Facebook
If your Turkey Day travels won’t take you too close to Stoneham, fret not! The festivities run from November 27 through January 4 of the New Year, which means there are six weeks of visit time. During later weeks, Santa will be in the house, too, which is always a treat for young ones. Once the fun with furry friends is over, you can rest up at the Courtyard Boston Woburn, just a couple miles away.
Lighting of Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, MA
While Plymouth, the site of the original Thanksgiving, has its own enshrined holiday celebration, so too does Provincetown, the location where the Pilgrims first actually landed. On November 26, Pilgrim Monument, the 252-foot statue that commemorates the 1620 landing, will once again be illuminated with thousands of lights.
Photo: Provincetown Monument at dusk
The lighting ceremony is set to take place from 5 – 7 p.m. and can be seen from various points around Provincetown Harbor. After the lighting, there’ll be refreshments and entertainment inside Provincetown Museum, courtesy of the Provincetown Business Guild. Overnight availability on Cape Cod is seasonal for many establishments, so for a spot in the area, it’s best to pick one out and then call to inquire.
11th Annual Wild Turkey 5 Mile Run in Salem, MA
With all the eating that’s to come later in the day, a little morning exercise might be just the thing to balance it out. The annual Wild Turkey Run, which takes place on the holiday itself and leaves from Salem Common, is the North Shore’s largest road race, with 2,000 participants expected to spread their wings this year.
Photo: Salem Common in early autumn by Robert Linsdell via Flickr
For the truly ambitious, there are two more races to fill out the weekend triad, on Saturday, November 28 in Hamilton and Sunday, November 29 in Marblehead. Proceeds from the events also go to a good place, benefitting the Bots & Girls Club of Greater Salem. To register, click here. To gest some rest afterwards, the Hawthorne Hotel is downtown and will be serving dinner, too.
Have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving in an unusual way? Tell us how in the comments below!
Photo at the top of the Parade of the Big Balloons via Facebook