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First Father’s Day was in Spokane, Washington

Spokane resident Sonora Smart Dodd, whose father raised her and her five siblings after their mother died in childbirth, instituted Father’s Day in 1910.

Whether it’s a barbecue, a game of golf, or a family brunch, many families celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 19, as an opportunity to honor the father figures in their lives.

Although it has only been an official federal holiday for half a century, claimed one Twitter user that the first Father’s Day celebration was more than 100 years ago in 1910 in Spokane, Washington.

THE QUESTION

Was the first Father’s Day celebrated in Spokane, Washington?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington.

WHAT WE FOUND

Spokane is the second largest city in Washington state after Seattle, and it’s also sunnier.

Spokane hosts many major events and historical landmarks, including the childhood home of the late actor and Christmas singer Bing Crosby, the annual Bloomsday Run and the world’s largest three-on-three basketball tournament called Hoopfest. The city also hosted the 1974 World’s Fair.

But what some people may not know is that Spokane is also the birthplace of Father’s Day, according to the city and other sources.

Spokane resident Sonora Smart Dodd, whose father raised her and her five siblings after their mother died in childbirth, began Father’s Day in 1910, the city said.

Dodd is said to have had the idea for the holiday after hearing a Methodist sermon, which the Encyclopedia Britannica notes was delivered on Mother’s Day in 1909.

Religious leaders and the local YMCA signed a petition started by Dodd to create a day honoring fathers. Then, on June 19, 1910, the mayor of Spokane and the governor of the state of Washington signed proclamations celebrating the first Father’s Day, according to the city. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Dodd’s father was born in June.

The city of Spokane says Dodd worked to make Father’s Day a national holiday for the next 60 years. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation in 1966 calling for the third Sunday in June to be recognized as Father’s Day. Six years later, in 1972, President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day a permanent national holiday.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, most countries, including the United States, now celebrate Father’s Day annually on June 19.

According to Spokane’s Historic Preservation Office, Dodd’s contributions were summarized in part by the local newspaper Spokesman-Review on her death in 1978: “Honor to thousands of fathers everywhere and to their hometown [the] The establishment of Father’s Day is an eternal epitaph to Mrs. John Bruce Dodd.”

The historic Spokane Father’s Day home where Dodd lived from 1913 to 1950 went on the market in 2017 for $220,000, VERIFY sister station KREM 2 reported, and was later sold. It was built for Dodd and her husband, John Bruce Dodd, who was a businessman and insurance agent. The three bedroom, two bathroom home has been described as a “craftsman style bungalow” that has been “lovingly restored and maintained.”

The Dodd House was listed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places in January 2008, followed by the National Register of Historic Places in July 2010.

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Alley Einstein

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