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24th November 2016

This year’s beautiful Illuminate and Thanksgiving costume and lantern parade in Plymouth will tell the story of the Native American tribe whose guidance saved the Pilgrim Fathers.

As America celebrates Thanksgiving, the Barbican parade on November 24 will shine a light on the Wampanoag people, who supported the Pilgrims as they struggled to survive in the New World.

The parade forms part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations and the countdown to 2020, when a host of events are planned around the world to mark the puritans’ epic voyage and the birth of America.

This year the story of the Wampanoag will be brought to life by Plymouth community groups, schools and colleges in a part parade, part performance event where children and young people will transform themselves into imaginary tribes.

Plymouth Waterfront Partnership Chairman, Chris Arscott, said: “The kind Wampanoag people are often overlooked in the story of the Pilgrim Fathers. “However, without their help during the puritans’ first few years, the world’s history could have been so different today.

“This is a celebration of bravery and tolerance and illustrates how when we all work together we can achieve amazing things…even the birth of a nation.

“The parade will allow us to shine a light on the hospitality of the Wampanoag tribe, the bravery of the Pilgrim Fathers and the success of that first harvest.”

The Wampanoag’s lands included what became Plymouth in Massachusetts, New England, where the pilgrims landed after fleeing religious persecution.

The tribe acted as translators and advisors and guided them as they struggled to make sense of their new surroundings. And, without the land they gave up and their support, many historians believe the pilgrims may not have survived to reap their first harvest, still celebrated as Thanksgiving in America and Canada today.

An estimated 16 million Americans are directly descended from the 102 Pilgrims who set sail on the Mayflower, from Franklin D Roosevelt to Humphrey Bogart.

During the Illuminate and Thanksgiving event audiences on the Barbican and beside Sutton Harbour, will be transported to a magical world, with poetry, song and speeches at the Mayflower Steps and theatre and dance on Commercial Wharf.

Big illuminated paper face

The parade will set off at 5.40pm from Commercial Wharf heading to the Guildhall, telling the tale of Moshup the Giant with illuminated costumes and lanterns.

Moshup, who is central to the Wampanoag culture, is believed to have been a huge benevolent being with supernatural power, so enormous that he caught whales with his bare hands! Illuminating the city as they go, the parade will pass near Plymouth Arts Centre where visitors can enjoy spectacular and thought-provoking projections created by artist Megan Broadmeadow.

Further fantastic digital projections co-produced by Plymouth College of Art and RIO will be displayed on the walls of the Guildhall at 6.30pm.

And, at the opening and close of the parade, members of the Barbican Theatre’s COMPANY b Dance and COMPANY b Theatre will perform.
The parade will also connect the city to other Mayflower locations in the UK, Holland and Plymouth, Massachusetts where further Illuminate events are planned.

Illuminate and Thanksgiving is a partnership project supported by Arts Council England, Plymouth Culture, Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council, Plymouth University, Plymouth City Council, Plymouth College of Art, RIO – Real Ideas Organisation, Plymouth History Centre, Plymouth Arts Centre and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership.

Much of the money to host the event has been raised through a crowdfunding campaign with Newquay-based Crowdfunder.

Child in illuminated paper outfit