CHADRON - Today is Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday. There is no mail delivery and government offices, schools, and financial institutions are closed as are most businesses, athough some have Black Friday sales starting this afternoon or tonight.
Many government offices will remain closed tomorrow as well. For the city of Chadron, tomorrow's closures include the Handi-bus - which is also closed today, city hall and the library, but the Aquatics and Wellness Center will be open and the library will reopen Saturday from 1-5:00.
The idea of setting aside a specific day to give thanks for life and its blessings dates back thousands of years through many civilizations, cultures and religions...but the American celebration started with the Pilgrims.
The religious refugees who founded the Plymouth Colony in 1620 marked their first harvest a year later with a feast of Thanksgiving. The date was formalized by Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War as the last Thursday in November, with Congress later fine-tuning that to the 4th Thursday of the month.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, in his Thanksgiving message, urges everyone to "remember and give thanks for the blessings and gifts which Almighty God has bestowed on us over the past year," and also calls for using the day as "a time when we can set aside our differences, enjoy time with our loved ones, and celebrate the things that make our country great."
There are a number of community Thanksgiving meals today in the Panhandle, with organizers at all of them emphasizing that the meal is for everyone who would like spend part of Thanksgiving with others, not just for those who might not otherwise have a traditional meal.
In Chadron, the Chadron Community Church has assumed the lead role for the meal running from noon-to-1:00 at the Assumption Arena.
The annual Crawford Eagles' Club free Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner will be served at the club from 11-1:30 with diners welcome to bring a salad or dessert to add to the offerings.
The 19th annual Hay Springs Community Dinner begins at noon at St Columbkille Catholic Church. Requests for deliveries will be accept until noon by calling 308-454-6984.
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