By Emily Sweeney
Plymouth’s highly-anticipated 400th anniversary celebration will take place in 2020, and the nonprofit in charge of planning the festivities is launching a six-year countdown this fall and introducing a series of events and programs to build up buzz for the historic milestone.
“It’s our big kickoff,” said Michele Pecoraro, executive director of Plymouth 400 Inc., the organization that’s planning various events to commemorate the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620 and the founding of the Plimoth colony. To start things off, Plymouth 400 will unveil its first educational and cultural exhibit at the town’s library next month. Titled “Captured: 1614,” it tells the story of how Squanto and other Native American men were kidnapped from Patuxet (which later became Plymouth) and taken overseas to be sold as slaves.
Of all the natives who were kidnapped, Squanto is the only one known to have come back. During his captivity, Squanto learned how to speak English, which enabled him to communicate with the Pilgrims and help them survive their first winter.
“Captured: 1614” will open to the public Nov. 14 and will be displayed at the Plymouth Public Library through March 2015. After that, the exhibit will be shown at other libraries and museums.
“That is a very important piece of history that doesn’t get told,” said Pecoraro. “The native people really wanted to have this exhibit precede the 1620 piece of the story.”
Plymouth 400 is also collaborating with a group in Plymouth, England, to host an event on Nov. 21 called Illuminate 2014. The 4 p.m. candle-lighting ceremony at the base of Cole’s Hill will kick off America’s Hometown Thanksgiving in downtown Plymouth, and the plan is to make it an annual event.
According to Plymouth 400 organizers, there are 22 other communities in the United States named Plymouth, and each will be invited to participate in the Illuminate event. The lighting of candles from one person to another is meant to represent unity, and symbolizes what Governor William Bradford once wrote: “As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many.”
Plymouth 400 is also launching a mobile app to allow users to connect and share photos with Illuminate attendees in England and elsewhere. The free app was expected to be available for Apple and Android phones this past Friday.
Another event to be introduced by Plymouth 400 is the Midnight Masquerade ball at Memorial Hall. Proceeds from the New Year’s Eve event will benefit Plymouth 400 and the 400th anniversary celebration.
For more information on these events, and to sign up for e-mail updates, visit www.plymouthma400.org.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Emily Sweeney