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El Paso Mission Trail Association set for First Thanksgiving Celebration on Saturday

The El Paso Mission Trail Association (EPMTA) is set to once again celebrate the area’s ‘First Thanksgiving’ this Saturday at the San Elizario Mission Plaza.

In addition to the reenactments, officials will be presenting a check from the sales of the Mission Valley License plates offered by the Dept. of Motor Vehicles.  This year the check is for $1,700 and will be presented to the San Eli Presidio Mission for restoration and repairs of the Mission.

The check presentation will be part of the 1st Thanksgiving Festivities at 3:30pm in front of the Mission. The reenactment will commence shortly afterward at 4pm.

Additionally, Team SISD’s choir students are reenacting the First Thanksgiving in the Southwest at the San Elizario Mission Plaza. Each year the city of San Elizario celebrates the event with a weekend celebration featuring the re-enactment.

Montwood choir teacher Joe B. Estala and his students were asked by the El Paso Mission Trail earlier this year to produce and stage the musical drama. Estala wrote some of the dialogue and created the songs for the production. Every performer in the play is a student.

“We stayed historically accurate as we could be,” Estala said. “This has been a great history lesson for my students.”

The reenactment tells the story of Spanish Explorer Juan de Oñate and his expedition, who after 50 days of rigorous travel through the Chihuahuan Desert, arrive on the Rio Grande (near San Elizario) where they are greeted by Native Americans with open arms.

The two groups celebrate the arrival and survival of the Spaniards with a sumptuous meal on April 30, 1598, 23 years before the Pilgrims had their own Thanksgiving meal.

EPMTA was chartered in 1986 by Historian Sheldon Hall. To promote the El Paso Missions, the Mission Trail and commemorate the First Thanksgiving.

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