How would y’all like to spend your “Turkey Day” in the same place where America’s first Thanksgiving happened? No, I’m not talking about Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims and local Indians celebrated an autumn harvest festival touted as our first Thanksgiving. I’m talking about a place in El Paso. That’s right, before the Pilgrims had their famous feast in 1621, a similar type of celebration occurred in 1598, and it happened right here in Texas!
Spanish explorer Don Juan De Oñate crossed the unforgiving Chihuahuan Desert, leading an expedition of 500 colonists and 7,000 head of livestock through an extremely harsh ordeal. Near the end of their 50 day trek, they ran out of food and water. Things looked bleak. But then they came upon the Rio Grande River, which proved to be a lifesaver. Oñate decided to offer a day of thanksgiving for the survival of the seemingly doomed expedition with a feast which was shared with the natives of the region.
If you do decide to celebrate Thanksgiving in El Paso, you won’t want to miss the historic Sun Bowl Parade. It takes place on Thanksgiving Day and is the largest community event in west Texas, attracting over 250,000 spectators annually. On hand will be lots of amazing giant helium balloons, floats,
marching bands, equestrian units, Indian dancers, and much more.
If you’re like me (i.e. you have a propensity for overindulging on Thanksgiving), you try to do some exercise to burn calories in preparation for the big feast. Enter El Paso’s Turkey Hike, a nice, comfortable, early-morning stroll up Ranger Peak. Don’t worry, once you’ve reached the top (about one mile), your workout is over — the Wyler Aerial Tramway will be waiting to take you on a relaxing and fun ride back down.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, then go for the Turkey Trot Hike, a two-mile walk through Franklin Mountains State Park . Besides being a great pre-pig-out workout, you’ll get to see some nice scenery.
OK, I admit that El Paso will probably never be known throughout America as the site of the country’s first Thanksgiving…but we Texans know the truth. And really, who cares where it started! As long as there’s food, family and football involved, I’m a happy camper!
I want to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!
For more things to do in El Paso, visit TourTexas.com