Americans mark Thanksgiving Day with travel, parades, shopping

Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:39pm EST
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By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans gathered on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving by stuffing turkeys and braving cold winds along parade routes, while others started the holiday shopping earlier than ever in a trend that some argued went against the spirit of the holiday.

With "Black Friday" deals being offered before Thanksgiving tables were even set on Thursday, critics circulated online petitions and a handful of franchise owners said they had defied corporate orders by keeping their stores closed for the holiday.

"It bothers me that this country is allowing them to dictate time away from our families," Holly Cassiano, who refused to open her Sears franchise in Plymouth, New Hampshire, told CNN.

Whole Foods, meanwhile, said its Thanksgiving work shifts were voluntary and it would compensate staff with time-and-a-half pay. Kmart said it had offered its holiday workers the same arrangement.

On a clear, sunny Thanksgiving, nose-diving morning temperatures after a rainy, snowy evening along the East Coast made for slick conditions during one of the nation's busiest travel times.

Mother Nature gave New York City a break with winds just below the level that would have grounded Snoopy and other giant helium balloons in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, although Spiderman limped along after its left arm was torn after getting snagged on a tree branch. City regulations prohibit the massive inflatables from flying when sustained winds top 23 miles per hour (37 km per hour), and gusts exceed 34 mph.

With a high-calorie feast looming, some Americans participated in morning running races called turkey trots. In Glen Ridge, New Jersey, 3,000 people turned out, with some wearing turkey hats and headbands decorated with turkey drumsticks.

"On Thanksgiving, I'm grateful I can still run five miles (eight km) so it's a great way to start the day since I'll be in the kitchen for the rest of it," said Patty Orsini, 54, a marketing analyst from Maplewood, New Jersey.   Continued...

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon floats down Central Park West during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York November 28, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn