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Reagan's Turkey Pardon | National Archives/WikiCommons
Reagan's Turkey Pardon | National Archives/WikiCommons
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How To Celebrate Thanksgiving In Washington, D.C.

Picture of Kate McMahon
Updated: 6 November 2016
Need plans on Turkey Day, other than gorging yourself? Plenty of festive activities await in Washington, D.C.
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Turkey Trot For Hunger

Ah, would it really be Thanksgiving if your friends and relatives didn’t brag about running a 5k? Dubbed turkey trots, races across the nation are held the morning of each Thanksgiving, ideal for family bonding and burning off calories in preparation for the feast ahead. D.C.’s annual trot commences at Freedom Plaza and loops about downtown – but for a cause. Sponsored by SOME (So Others May Eat), all proceeds go to feeding the homeless. Register here.

13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, USA

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Presidential Turkey Pardon

In accordance with White House traditions, POTUS selects one lucky turkey each year to officially pardon. The lucky turkey will enjoy a happy, fattening life for the rest of his days, and narrowly avoid a dinner plate. Obama, being a man of comedy, makes a larger celebration of the occasion than any past president; he often delivers a Class A stand-up routine in his official pardon speech — much to the chagrin of his daughters. Even presidents are embarrassing dads. Stream it live on

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, USA

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Volunteer at Capital Area Food Bank

Let’s not forget what Thanksgiving is all about: giving thanks, achieved by giving back to the community. For those who go hungry on Thanksgiving, the holiday isn’t joyful bliss – it’s a struggle to feed their families. Volunteer with the Capital Area Food Bank, which spends the day distributing meals and non-perishables to low income families in the District.

4900 Puerto Rico Ave NE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 (202) 644-9800

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National Museum of the American Indian

Celebrate Thanksgiving by learning the stories of natives in this country, and their continued struggle of cultural preservation against oppression. Violently eradicated by white colonial settlers, millions were killed between Columbus’s arrival and Andrew Jackson’s presidency. But their culture, and their spirit, live on. There’s no better way to embrace the holiday than paying homage to indigenous peoples.

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Swing Dance Party

The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage will host a swing dance party to twirl off all those calories. Starting at 7p.m., which is an acceptable time to depart from your insufferable relatives – that is, your host’s dinner table – head directly to the JFK center. There will be two hours of good old fashioned swinging, and era appropriate attire is encouraged. Think 1940s.

2700 F St NW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 (202) 467-4600