FREEHOLD, NJ – The Board of Chosen Freeholders wishes everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend and reminds residents to take time to enjoy the start of the holiday season in Monmouth County.

“As we celebrate this unique American holiday with turkey and all the trimmings, we must be thankful for all the blessings we have,” Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso said. “As we reflect on those blessings, let us thank our neighbors and friends who continue to provide help and assistance to our less fortunate residents.”

“As we gather together with family and friends this Thanksgiving, we have a greater appreciation at this time for the people in our lives and the feast we enjoy,” Freeholder John P. Curley said. “I ask that you take a moment to think about those who may not have food on their tables this weekend. Some of our neighbors need our help and through these tough financial times – your food donation will be a big help. You can make a difference by donating to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.”

In the fall of 1621, the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said. “This is a great American tradition that we enjoy thanks to the generations of courageous Americans that came before us.”

The Board of Chosen Freeholders also reminds residents that there are plenty of local events and shopping close to home to make the upcoming holiday season enjoyable and, hopefully, less hectic.

“Shop local this holiday season,” Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone said. “To get you started, there is a new, online Made in Monmouth Local Holiday Shopping Directory that has links to makers and sellers of all sorts of products and gift ideas that are made right here in Monmouth County is available on the Monmouth County website at visitmonmouth.com.”

President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.

“Among our blessings is the freedom to live and self-govern as we choose,” Freeholder Director Gary J. Rich, Sr. said. “There is a price for that freedom, so I urge everyone to also thank our service men and women and pray that they, too, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.”