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Communitywide Thanksgiving event returns Nov. 23

By Staff | Nov 19, 2014

The island’s annual Thanksgiving Celebration returns Nov. 23 to the Sanibel Community House. Organizers include Fred Bondurant (left), Kelly Koerpel (seated), Mary Bondurant (kneeling) and Stacey Gerhart. CRAIG GARRETT

Plymouth Rock was not like this.

In a much warmer climate, the city’s annual Thanksgiving Celebration returns Nov. 23 at the Sanibel Community House.

Islanders and guests are invited to join in the nondenominational service that is a celebration of Thanksgiving in words and song. The event is free and is both a fun and uplifting event, organizers said. The event that dates back some 30 years has in past years attracted several hundred islanders and friends. Snacks and cider will be served during the celebration that begins around 6:45 p.m. The Community House is located at 2173 Periwinkle Way.

“It’s an interfaith, communitywide event,” said Mary Bondurant, chair of the Thanksgiving Celebration. “We’re very excited.”

One activity during the evening celebration is a roundtable discussion between leaders of island churches and Sanibel’s synagogue. The talk will focus on the meaning and importance of giving thanks in every circumstance, said John Danner, pastor of the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ and an organizer of the interfaith Thanksgiving celebration. The talk will feature Danner, Rabbi Myra Soifer, the Rev. Dr. Ellen Sloan, the Rev. George Morris, Mary Miller and Associate Pastor Barb Nave.

The communal Thanksgiving Celebration, Danner said, “is a good thing. Out of our diversity, we can find unity.”

The history of Thanksgiving is rooted in English traditions surrounding harvest festivals. But prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions and most cultures after harvests and at other times. While the pilgrims and native Americans are generally credited with the first Thanksgiving, it could be argued that other influences, particularly in Florida, can be credited. Some research points out that the Spanish celebrated a Thanksgiving in St. Augustine around 1565.

One tradition for the celebration is linked to disasters or threats of judgement calling for days of fasting. Days of Thanksgiving were called following military victories in 1588 and in the celebration of royalty. Ultimately the event is linked to adventurers and refugees setting foot on dry land in North America, perhaps more thankful for having survived.

In Sanibel, Mayor Kevin Ruane, City Manager Judie Zimomra and representatives of civic and nonprofit groups will participate in the Nov. 23 event that includes music and song from the Big Arts Community Chorus, and several other island performers. Fellowship over cookies, donated by Jerry’s Supermarket, and cider, donated by Bailey’s, will follow the Sanibel Celebration of Thanks.

“We would like everyone,” Mary Bondurant said, “to join our Thanksgiving celebration this year, sharing your blessings with those less fortunate makes Thanksgiving more meaningful.”

Guests will be encouraged to bring food or monetary donations for F.I.S.H., the island agency with a food pantry and dozens of services that reach seniors and workers on limited incomes.

For details about the annual celebration, contact Mary Bondurant at Mary@BondurantRealtyGroup.com or by phone at (239) 839 -3633.