On Nov. 17 and 18, the students of MidCoast Christian Academy in Thomaston organized a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving as part of their Maine Studies class.

In the weeks leading up to the reenactment, the students spent many hours researching historical foods and activities, designing the shelters and scheduling each day’s events. After weeks of meticulous planning, the big day finally arrived.

Ann Allen, Maine Studies teacher, generously contributed her farm for the event. As students began arriving, the men set to work building the framework of the tepee, stripping the bark off young spruce trees cut beforehand by Zack Allen and his father. They covered the framework with two pieces of sailcloth sewn together by Mrs. Allen and donated by Kevin Westcott, owner of Midcoast Marine Supply. After several attempts at covering the tepee, a gap still remained between the sailcloth and the ground, rendering the first shelter a bit drafty.

With dusk approaching, students quickly shifted their attention to constructing the wigwam. They nailed old carpeting and canvas onto the wigwam structure, built in advance by the Allen family. Deemed a success by all, the men turned their attention to other pressing matters, such as gathering birch bark to use as kindling to heat the wigwam that night. Zack Allen then dug the pit for the bean-hole beans while Zach Spofford and Justin Snow ferried chairs and food from the house to the cabin where the feast would take place the following day.

While the men constructed the shelters, the women busied themselves preparing the Thanksgiving feast. Using homegrown vegetables from the Allen’s garden, Merritt Becknell, Rachel Allen, Stephanie Colson and Sydney Spofford peeled and chopped the vegetables, baked rolls and breads and churned butter. With the smell of baking bread filling the room, they made succotash, pies, molasses cookies and pumpkin pudding. Everyone chose and prepared a plump chicken from the Allen’s livestock for the Thanksgiving bird. With the cooking accomplished, the women made their way to the cabin to sweep floors and make beds, singing songs and laughing as they worked.

As the night grew colder and darker, the time came for stories around the campfire told by Stormie Hendrickson, Wabanaki author and member of the Metis of Maine Society. Not wanting the evening to end, the students toasted marshmallows and played Silly Tilly, a word game enjoyed by colonial children. As the fire died down, the girls retired to the cabin while the boys settled into the wigwam for the night. With temperatures dropping to the low 20s that night, all were thankful when morning came.

Upon waking, everyone enjoyed a leisurely breakfast cooked on the wood stove in the cabin. Students began last-minute preparations, pressing apple cider, warming food on the wood stove and setting the table for the feast. At each setting, five kernels of corn were placed as a reminder that many of the early Pilgrims faced starvation that first long, cold winter. Each student picked up a kernel of corn and shared one of God’s blessings for which they were thankful. The meal tasted especially delicious that day, and a spirit of camaraderie settled on the feasters.

As the feast drew near to an end, everyone agreed that it had been an amazing day.