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Best Thanksgiving Themed Events in New Jersey

Thanksgiving in New Jersey

Your guide to Thanksgiving in New Jersey:
Popular Holiday celebrations and things to do

What many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving took place in December 1621 as the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest.

The day did not become a national holiday until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving, President Franklin Roosevelt later declared that Thanksgiving Day always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping.

While the turkey is generally served as the main dish for a Thanksgiving dinner, goose, and duck, and ham, are now sometimes served in place of the Thanksgiving turkey. Some other alternative recipes for a Thanksgiving dinner include the Chinese recipe for goose that could be used on the similarly-sized American bird. Vegetarians or vegan's usually have tofurkey, a tofu-based dish.

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twenty minutes. Football Half-times take twenty minutes. This is not coincidence." - by Erma Bombeck

State of NJ

COVID-19 executive orders in effect apply to indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people, effective November 23rd: Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 150 people
The following indoor gatherings are exempt and may continue under the current rules – limited to 25% of a room's capacity, up to 150 people:

  • Indoor performance venues, including concert venues
  • Restaurants with bars, and lounges that serve food and drink, however, must remove bar seating and close their indoor premises for business by 10 pm.

    With near term cancellations occurring at a rapid rate, and despite trying to remove them as soon as we learn of the cancellations or restrictions, we  recommend viewers contact the event sponsors before heading out to a listed event to confirm their status.

2020 Thanksgiving Holiday Themed Events

The Fast and the Furriest 5K Turkey Trot
Thu November 5 - Thru November 26, 2020
A Virtuak Anytown, NJ event
Website / Registration
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we are not permitted to do an in-person event this year.
So, in its thirteenth year, The Fast and the Furriest Turkey Trot will be a virtual event. To participate, runners and walkers must register on-line before midnight, November 4th . No mail in registrations will be accepted. Runners and walkers must complete the 5k distance at a time of their choosing between November 5th and noon, Thanksgiving Day, November 26th.
All proceeds from this event benefit the Ocean City Humane Society.

Tom O'Reilly Turkey Trot

Sunday, November 15, 2020; 10am - Noon) (Rain or Shine)
Colonial Park
156 Mettlers Road
Franklin Township
Schedule & Registration
Come and enjoy the new course, a fast, flat, two loops within beautiful Colonial Park. Bring the whole family and enjoy the park facilities.
Raritan Valley Road Runners (RVRR) is setting up a scholarship fund. Donations made to the club in Tom's name will be directed into this fund. A minimum of 10% of the profits from the Turkey Trot will go to this scholarship in Tom's Memory.

Early 19th Century Thanksgiving
Saturday, November 21, 2020 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Allaire Village
4265 Atlantic Ave
Farmingdale, NJ
Celebrate an early 19th Century Thanksgiving with the villagers of James P. Allaire's Howell Iron Works Company! The historic homes, craft shops, and retail buildings will be open to welcome you for a special "Day of Thanks."
Starting at 11:30am, special program at the historic chapel, craft demonstrations (Blacksmith, Tinsmith, Carpentry, Leather-Making and more), cooking at the Manager's House over its 18th century open hearth, and other special activities for adults and children. Bakery, General Store, and Enameling Building's Museum Store open for early holiday shopping. Additional early 19th century period cooking and other activities to "give thanks" will be spread throughout the village!
COVID-19 VISITOR RULES • ALL VISITORS MUST WEAR A MASK inside the historic buildings and throughout the village grounds.

Two Town Turkey Trot! Lambertville – New Hope
Run anytime between Saturday, November 21st to Thanksgiving morning, November 26th.
A Virtual Event
Website/Registration . Registration: $35 in advance online. Online registration closes November 26th at 11 am
Run a 5K or walk 1-mile anywhere you choose. Run in your neighborhood, a park, or our course from last year's Two Town Turkey Trot (map below). Please do not run our course in a big group and remember to run socially distantly. Download and print your bib to make it feel more like a race. Run anytime between Saturday, November 21st to Thanksgiving morning, November 26th. At noon on Thanksgiving, the race will close.
Proceeds from this event will support the Chambers' programs and Fisherman's Mark, a local non-profit organization that serves those in need in all of the Delaware River Towns communities.

Read Feed Run - Virtual Turkey Trot
Thanksgiving morning, November 26, 2020 (or over the weekend)
A Morris County virtual Event
Website / Registration
Join in on Thanksgiving morning (or over the weekend) to virtually run or walk your 5K Turkey Trot from anywhere.
You can even run or walk more than once and submit your best time! Results submission will be available 11/26 – 11/29. Track your miles and join weekly activities. Even though we won't be together in-person on Thanksgiving morning, we will still be celebrating on Facebook LIVE and come together virtually.
Whether you choose to take an extra 26 steps a day, walk 26 miles in a month, run a double marathon, or create a team to compete, this year, our Virtual Turkey Trot is your Turkey Trot. We encourage you to count your 5K Turkey Trot as your final miles to complete your challenge!
Sign up by Nov 6th, tees available for pick-up on Nov 20th.
Sign ups on or after Nov 7th, may not be able to pick-up shirt until Dec 14th. SIGN UP EARLY!
Proceeds from this event will help support the health and well being of eligible Morris County residents in need by providing access to food, nutrition education and related resources.

The Racefaster Thanksgiving Day Run
Thursday, November 26 & Saturday, November 28, 2020
One Garden State Plaza
Paramus, NJ US 07452
Website / Registration
They will have an open start and finish so that people can socially distance. An open start and finish is where runners are separated and funneled through the start line either by family or two by two. Your time will begin recording (via chip) only when you cross the start line and then stop recording when you cross the finish line.
Two Events:
November 26th --- 5k Run $30 9:00AM - 11:00AM. Registration ends November 23, 2020 at 6:00pm
November 28th --- Kids Fun Run $15 - 9:45AM - 11:00AM. Registration ends November 23, 2020 at 6:00pm

Thanksgiving Weekend in Avalon

Wednesday, November 25 until Monday, November. 30, 2020
Dune Drive
Avalon, NJ

Burn those turkey calories with a virtual 5K to benefit the Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children. Register online, put on a costume if you like, and then complete your 5K at your leisure between Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Monday, Nov. 30. Head north, head south or just head around the block! The route is yours to choose.
Following your Turkey Trot, head to Dune Drive for carriage rides, live music, children's performances, crafts, giveaways and more. And stick around: While Santa will not be able to meet with families this year, he is still heading to Avalon with a special lighting of Dune Drive at 4:30pm, with a variety of characters waving along the way. Gather safely along Dune Drive and watch as the island lights up for the holidays! Following the lighting, head east to the beach: The Avalon Recreation Department will be hosting drive-in movies at the 30th Street parking lot Friday and Saturday. And do it all over again on Saturday with more live entertainment, fun crafts and performances and, of course, some holiday shopping at our retail stores and restaurants.

Red Mill - 11th Annual Festival of Trees
Friday, November 27th through Sunday, November 29th, 2020 from 10am - 4pm
Red Mill Museum Village
56 Main Street
Clinton, NJ
Tickets - $10
This event features Christmas trees, designed and decorated by community members, local businesses and organizations, will be displayed on the grounds of the Red Mill Museum Village. The kick-off begins on Thanksgiving weekend (Friday, November 27th through Sunday, November 29th from 10am -4pm).
The opening weekend coincides with the very popular Winter Village, an outdoor holiday market hosted by Marketspace Vendors with over 40 unique vendors. The display of trees placed outdoors among the historical buildings will continue to be on view Saturdays and Sundays, December 5th – 20th from 12-6pm.
Proceeds from this event will benefit the Red Mill Museum Village, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

Gobble - Gobble Hike, South Mt. Reservation
Friday, November 27, 2020; 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
South Mountain Reservation
Essex County Dog Park
Maplewood, NJ 07040
Hike the Fairy Trail, Hemlock Fallls, Lenape Trail, and more Trail hike for 4-5 miles.
Finish time will depend on the pace of the group. ETA is about 3 hours.
Directions: Enter South Mt Reservation from South Orange Ave onto CREST DRIVE (from either east or west). Drive straight to where the road ends. Turn right onto Bear Lane. Park near the gazebo and look for the FreeWalkers banner.
Masks will be required. Dress for warmth (layers suggested) Hiking shoes/boots. Trails can be muddy and rocky in some areas. Hiking poles are helpful; not required. Water and light snack for energy if you like it.
Proceeds from this event will benefit FreeWalkers, a 100% volunteer organization that hosts FREE walks throughout the year.

Thanksgiving Hayrides, Wreath & Sleigh Bell Sale
Saturday, November 28, 2020; 10am - 4pm
Howell Living History Farm
70 Wooden Lane
Lambertville, NJ 08530
(609) 737-3299
Celebrate the holidays by taking a scenic, horse-drawn hayride through the heart of Pleasant Valley, passing fields of harvested corn and newly-sprouted winter wheat—and crossing the fords of Dry Run Creek. The rides are free, and visitors are invited to lend support to the farm's community outreach programs by bringing canned goods for donation to area food banks and soup kitchens. At the visitor center, the Friends of Howell Farm will hold their annual Wreath & Sleighbell Sale, featuring straps of bells made by the farm's harnessmaker

Other New Jersey Thanksgiving Things To Do