Want to dine with the Pilgrims? Bid now

Rich Harbert

What would you pay to go back in time and sit at the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Native Wampanoags?

Bidders in an online auction could help answer that question over the course of the next week as Plimoth Plantation puts its interpretive program on the eBay auction block.

Beginning at 16:21 (4:21 p.m.) Thursday, the living history museum entertained bids for the Thanksgiving dinner services of an interpreter playing the role of Hobbamock, a native Wampanoag, and Edward Winslow, one of the original passengers on the Mayflower.

The winning bidder of the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” auction will get to host the pair in all their 17th century finery for a Thanksgiving celebration – anywhere in the United States. The auction will run for 10 days, through Oct. 12 at 4:30 p.m. As of Friday morning, there was only one bid, but it was impressive at $5,000.

John McDonough, executive director of the Plantation, said the auction is a creative fundraising strategy for difficult financial times that promises to take the important message of Plimoth Plantation to Middle America. The two interpreters on the block, Shann Young, who plays Winslow, and Jonathan Perry, who plays Hobbamock, are Plantation veterans and may look familiar to some.

Both are featured prominently in the orientation film seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors to the museum each year. Both also played roles in Desperate Crossings, the History Channel’s recent docudrama film about the Mayflower’s voyage.

The two interpreters took on more playful roles to help promote the auction.

The museum, with the help of students from Boston University, put together an amusing YouTube video to dramatize the unique experience that waits the auction winner.

It starts in the museum’s 1627 Village, where interpreters like Young take on the roles of the Pilgrim settlers living in the early years of the Colony. Enter a limousine, which whisks Winslow and Hobbamock off to the airport and their Thanksgiving dinner destination.

There is enough clever tinkering with modern conveniences like car stereos, revolving doors, airplanes, hotel beds and showers to explain how the characters react to the 21st century. But the video also shows some serious touches, like Perry speaking only in the native language of his people.

The two men will arrive at the wining bidder’s destination of choice dressed for dinner in 1621. They will spend the first two hours in character, responding only as someone from the 17th century.

But Young and Perry will spend another two hours after the meal out of character, discussing the work of the museum and setting the record straight about the first Thanksgiving.

McDonough said the plantation does not require a family win the bid. A corporation or civic group may wish to host the interpreters at a larger venue. The host does not even have to celebrate on Thanksgiving. The auction winner can select any date between Nov. 20 and Dec. 4 for the festivities.

The party can be also be held anywhere in the U.S. but the winner is responsible for transportation and accommodations. Young, in his role as Winslow, hopes to travel west. He said he walked 50 miles west to meet with Massasoit once and would like to go farther.

The Plantation is offering an additional promotion throughout the duration of the auction. Guests purchasing Plantation and Mayflower II tickets through Oct. 12 can enter to win tickers to a 1627 Harvest Dinner for up to six people during Thanksgiving week. Winners will be announced Oct. 14.

For more information on the auction and promotion, visit the Plantation Web site at