Americans mark Thanksgiving Day with travel, parades, shopping

Fri Nov 29, 2013 9:12am 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 retailers offering "Black Friday" deals 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.

A Pizza Hut restaurant manager in Elkhart, Indiana, who was fired for refusing to keep the restaurant open on Thanksgiving said the worldwide pizza chain had offered to rehire him and he was considering it.

Grocer Whole Foods said its Thanksgiving work shifts were voluntary and it would compensate staff with time-and-a-half pay. Discount chain 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 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 by 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.   Continued...

Shoppers walk with a cart full of purchases from Walmart in Westbury, New York, November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton