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The school production of the first Thanksgiving is as much a holiday season staple as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Black Friday bargains and turkey with all the trimmings.

Chances are there are readers who remember the pilgrim outfits, the nervous jitters and the adoring crowd of parents with cameras at the ready to capture the unfolding drama.

This week’s Tour Through Time focuses on the holiday programs staged at LeTort Elementary School in Carlisle in 1959 and 1961. Both productions were performed by fourth-graders under the direction of Margaret Rupp.

The Nov. 25, 1959, show opened with the singing of “Over the River” and included “The Indians’ Story” recited by William Gillespie and Peter Russell. This was followed by a piano solo by Sharlene Pribrow.

Choral selections were followed by the reading of three poems by John Heckman, Joanne Duncan and the entire class. The fourth-graders then sang “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.”

Cordie Blankert was up next with piano solo and then Robert Duncan read a poem. This was followed by the play “The First Thanksgiving” set in 1621 inside the Elder Brewster’s home.

The Sentinel published a preview of this holiday program on Nov. 24, 1959. Two years later, the newspaper published a run-down of the 1961 program in its Nov. 25 edition.

With Rupp in charge, the 1961 program opened with Carmen Cowan and the entire class singing “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.” This was followed by songs, recitations, “The Story of the Pilgrims” and the play “The First Thanksgiving.”

Tour Through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with Historical Society staff each week to offer a look at Cumberland County through the years. Send any questions, future ideas or tips to Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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Education/History Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.