America’s first Thanksgiving – 23 years before the Pilgrims landed!

First Thanksgiving by illegal aliens no less!

Juan de Onate and his expedition of 500 on April 30, 1598 stumbled into the San Elizario, Texas area. They were out of food, water and at the end of their strength. When they arrived at the Rio Grande Don Juan de Onate held a Thanksgiving celebration.

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The San Elizario Chapel is not a mission as most people believe, rather it served as a chapel for the fort the Spaniards built. The organizers of this reenactment of America’s first Thanksgiving did a fantastic job decorating the area right in front of the chapel. I took this picture with the Nikon D90 and the Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye. I love this lens! It offers so many choices when taking a picture.
ISO 200, 10mm, f/5.6, 1/2000th.
I decided to concentrate on faces for the most part since it’s really difficult to photograph and display a story line.
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This guy is a member of the San Elizario Desperados, a reenactment group. They did a fantastic job entertaining the audience as you can see from this image.

This kind of picture is exactly what I was looking for. Lot’s of character and fun. The picture grabs your eyeballs and forces you to look.
I arrived at San Elizario one hour before show time. That gave me plenty of opportunities to walk around the plaza, and talk with the actors. I took a lot of pictures before the show but tossed most of them because of bad background. I wanted to stay as pure as possible, shooting authentic looking characters with authentic backgrounds. Getting to know the actors before showtime helped  because they would look my way and play to my camera during the show.
I took this image with the Nikon D5000 and the Nikkor 18-200mm lens. ISO 200 f/8, 1/320th 42mm.
The Nikkor 18-200mm was the workhorse of the day. With the exception of the first image showing the chapel, I shot everything else using the 18-200mm. This is a great “walk around” lens.

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I photographed this beautiful young lady before the show and was lucky enough to catch her with a nice background. Of course I was flirting with her, that explains the beautiful smile. Shmoozing with the actors was really important because I wanted good pictures.
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This handsome young man was actually sitting on a small pony. Shooting the boy with the pony in any kind of pose or background was impossible. I think every kid in San Elizario was crowded around him and his pony. I opted for shooting this image, which I thought cute.
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Another member of the San Elizario Desperados. This image was also shot before the show began.
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This beautiful Native Amrican woman was with the organizing officials. She took part in the opening ceremonies. To get a shot like this requires a bit of patience and staying focused on the subject until she is in the clear and has a nice bright smile. I did let her know that I was photographing her, so she could give me a quick pose.
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The most difficult problem with this kind of shoot is location. YOUR location. In order to get this shot I had to get in front of the crowd and just sit in the street. I moved around quite a bit trying for different angles and perspectives. I never stay in one location too long because the pictures then tend to become stale and static.
I had a great time and hope you enjoyed the pictures.
I am not a professional, I take pictures for the fun of it and let my cameras take me to beautiful places and interesting events.
Please use the provided links for your shopping. Stay safe and have a fun time with your camera.
Don’t forget to write if you have any tips, or news. I like to hear from you!
Guest writers on photography related subjects cordially invited.
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The First Thanksgiving

America’s first Thanksgiving

1598: Juan de Onate holds a festival to give thanks for a safe passage across the Rio Grande River – it is referred to as the first Thanksgiving feast in America – 23 years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. The Pilgrims must have brought with them a better pr team.
1598, Don Juan de Oñate, a Spanish nobleman and conquistador born in Zacatecas, Mexico, led a group of 500 colonists and 7,000 head of livestock (including horses, oxen and cattle) from southern Chihuahua to settle the province of New Mexico. The caravan traveled a northeasterly route for weeks across the desert until it reached the banks of the Río Grande in the San Elizario area. The thirsty travelers drank the cool water and then celebrated with a Thanksgiving Mass and enjoyed a feast of fish, fowl and deer on April 30, 1598. This is considered to be the “First Thanksgiving” celebrated in the present-day United States. Oñate performed the ceremony of La Toma (Taking Possession) in which he claimed the new province for King Philip II of Spain or Rey Felipe II de España.

All of the following images were taken with the Nikon D5000 and the Nikkor 18-200mm vr. This superb combination let me shoot this event all day long without fiddling around for other lenses. I took over 800 images of this event with no problems. All I had to worry about was getting the picture.

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The San Elizario Chapel presented the perfect setting for the reenactment of America’s first Thanksgiving.

Reenactment of Don Juan de Onate coming to the area of what is today San Elizario, Texas.

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The El Paso Mission Trail Association put on a super show.
Please use the provided links for your shopping. Stay safe and have a fun time with your camera.
Don’t forget to write if you have any tips, or news. I like to hear from you!
Guest writers on photography related subjects cordially invited.
Please link to this blog. I really need the links and appreciate them greatly.

My Flicker Photostream
My babe photostream on Flickr
My SmugMug account

Amazon Hot Deals