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The BBC 's Pippa Quelch
"Plymouth ... has gradually been making itself a destination for US citizens"
 real 28k

Friday, 24 November, 2000, 03:14 GMT
Expats gather for Plymouth Thanksgiving
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A group of Americans are leaving election fever behind as they gather in Devon to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Expatriates longing for Thanksgiving institutions like New York department store Macy's parade will have to get the next best thing in Plymouth.

The Devon city is staging one of the biggest celebrations outside the United States with hundreds of Americans expected to attend four days of events.

The focal point of the festivities is Sutton Harbour in Plymouth where the Pilgrim Fathers boarded the Mayflower to sail for the New World in 1620 to escape religious persecution.

Their arrival is commemorated in the Thanksgiving holiday, regarded by many as the most important in the American calendar.

Every year it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

Flag-raising ceremony

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Britain's festivities centred on the Phoenix, a replica 17th century square-rigged sailing ship moored close to Sutton Harbour's Mayflower Steps.

A ceremonial raising of the Stars and Stripes was attended by an honour guard from an American naval base in St Morgan, Cornwall.

On Friday, the US Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission Glyn Davies will receive part of the steps from which the Pilgrim Fathers set off.

Organisers hope the inscribed granite fragment will be installed in the White House.

Other events include a traditional Thanksgiving turkey banquet and parade.

Replica hopes

A plaque remembering all who sailed on the historic voyage was erected in the harbour as part of a renovation of the steps.

Parade
American expats miss events like Macy's Parade
It is hoped a replica of the Mayflower could eventually be moored there.

Neill Mitchell, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, which is organising the Thanksgiving celebrations, said: "It is aimed very much at expatriates.

"In Europe, it is not recognised at all and for expats, it is the time of year they feel most isolated."

Mr Mitchell said Plymouth had a special significance for Americans.

He added: "With the Americans it goes all the way back to Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh and there are 26 Plymouths in the USA."

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23 Nov 00 | Entertainment
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