It Happened Here! – The Great Lawn

greatlawn

November 20, 1937.

On a chilly Saturday morning, dozens of New Yorkers gathered on the Great Lawn for a very special Thanksgiving treat from J.L. Harbinger, owner of Harbinger’s Sports Emporium, Manhattan’s largest sporting goods store.

Calling it “The Great Lawn Turkey Shoot” Harbinger promised all in attendance the opportunity to “celebrate Thanksgiving like our forefathers did by shooting a turkey with reasonably priced weapons provided by Harbinger’s Sports Emporium.”

Armed with long bows and small caliber rifles, participants lined up on the southern end of the Great Lawn as Harbinger’s assistant’s set loose a bunch of farm raised turkeys from a pen located in the center.  Harbinger fired a ceremonial shot from his pistol and declared the hunt to be on!

When the smoke finally cleared 15 minutes later, all of the turkeys had escaped unharmed. Several participants were  treated at the scene for minor gunshot and arrow wounds. The only fatality was Morton Finnay of Brooklyn New York who was felled by 13 gunshots and seven arrows by his wife Caroline, who swore until her dying day she thought her husband was an extra large turkey who often criticized her cooking and housekeeping skills.

It Happened Here! 

Happy Thanksgiving from Central Park: A Misguide!

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It Happened Here! – The Lake

November 14, 2009.

While sitting on one of the many rustic benches surrounding The Lake in Central Park, Upper West Side resident Carrie Brooker wrote out a list of food to prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner she was hosting for her family.

 – Roasted Tofurkey with Whole Wheat, Wild Rice, and Pine nut stuffing.

 – Thyme scented sweet potatoes with black olives and garlic

 – Cider Braised Brussel Sprouts

 – Pear and Toasted Walnut Salad with Homemade Organic Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

 – Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn

 – Wheat free Apple Walnut Cobbler

It was the first and last time Carrie ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner for her family.

It Happened Here!

Happy Thanksgiving from Central Park: A Misguide. 

Nelson Van Buford – The First Unwanted Thanksgiving Guest

Just inside the park from the 72nd street entrance at Fifth Avenue is Pilgrim Hill, a beautiful spot which is home to one of the most famous statues in Central Park – The Pilgrim.

While many believe this statue commemorates all the Pilgrims who came to North America to seek a new life, The Pilgrim actually pays reluctant tribute to Nelson Van Buford, the most infamous member of the Plymouth Colony and the man who has the distinction of being the very first unwanted Thanksgiving guest.

In 1621 the Plymouth settlers gathered to celebrate a successful harvest and to give thanks for all their good fortune since they settled in their new land, with all members of the colony providing a sumptuous feast of fish, fowl, wild game, fruits, vegetables, and abundant grains.

Esteemed guests from the Native American Wampanoug tribe joined the Pilgrims in the celebration and were warmly welcomed by the colonists in the spirit of peace and brotherhood.

Unfortunately, this was not the case with all the guests.

Nelson Van Buford, a surly yam farmer who lived on the outskirts of the colony, arrived at the celebration as appetizers were being served.  He was not expected to attend as his only reply to an invitation to the party by a colony member was “Get off my land or I’ll kill you!”

Reluctantly the colonists made room for Van Buford at the table as he helped himself to some wine and loudly complained about his trip up the hill from his farm.  When introduced to members of the Wampanoug tribe, Van Buford angrily declared his dislike of eating with foreigners.

To the surprise of everyone, the notoriously stingy Van Buford did bring a contribution to the feast, a basket of raw yams he had pulled from his garden earlier that day.  The yams were happily accepted, but were left in the kitchen with the extra piles of corn and the three bean salad the Wampanoug had brought.

Things came to a head a few hours later when a now violently inebriated Van Buford picked a fight with Native American guest Squanto (whom he referred to as “Squinty”) and then demanded the colonists reimburse him for the yams he had provided.  He stormed back to his farm, vowing never to give thanks with the colonists again.

The following year when Van Buford arrived at the settlement for the Thanksgiving Day feast, the Plymouth Colony pretended not to be home.