Thanksgiving Day marked with parades, feasts in wake of Sandy

Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:26pm EST
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By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with parades and sumptuous feasts, some sharing the bounty at East Coast emergency shelters to express gratitude for what they still had after Superstorm Sandy caused widespread damage throughout the region.

"We're trying to do it Pilgrim style," said Louis DeCarolis, 51, who was roasting a turkey in a fire pit marked by an American flag and dug into the front yard of his son's home in Rockaway Beach, Queens. The area lost power when it was flooded by the deadly storm, which hit the area last month.

Thousands of area residents are coping with the loss of homes, businesses and loved ones. At an emergency shelter in another coastal community, Belle Harbor, Queens, red cloths and red and pink roses graced tables groaning with trays of stuffing and pumpkin pies for people displaced by the historic storm that destroyed homes and businesses in New York and New Jersey.

In Texas, the crush of holiday road traffic was blamed for a massive, high-speed pileup of up to 150 vehicles on a fog-bound interstate near Beaumont that killed at least two people and injured up to 120, a sheriff's spokesman said.

New York City kicked off the holiday with cheering crowds lining streets for the 86th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the largest public event so far in a city still recovering from the storm.

Under warm and clear skies, children climbed atop police vans and on their parent's shoulders to get a better view of an enormous inflatable Hello Kitty prowling between skyscrapers along with 15 other gigantic balloons, including a 60-foot-tall Kermit the Frog balloon and a huge Charlie Brown.

The parade, which typically draws 3.5 million spectators and 50 million television viewers, also featured 28 floats, 11 marching bands, thousands of cheerleaders and dancers as well as Santa Claus. Celebrity performers included Whoopi Goldberg, Carly Rae Jepsen and the Muppets.

Macy's provided seats for some 5,000 people affected by Sandy, which inundated lower Manhattan with seawater, damaged shorelines and destroyed homes in New Jersey and New York. The October 29 storm killed 132 people in the United States and Canada.   Continued...

People eat a Thanksgiving dinner cooked and served by volunteers in the Staten Island borough of New York November 22, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer