Thanksgiving: Football, Floats, Food And Family

The Smurf balloon floats through Times Square during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

The Smurf balloon floats through Times Square during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Jeff Christensen/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jeff Christensen/AP

Around the nation, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with parades, turkey feasts, football, and by welcoming loved ones from Afghanistan just in time for the holiday.

Kung Fu Panda, Kanye West, Spider-Man, a Smurf and India.Arie all in one place? Those and more are what parade-goers saw Thursday at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Emily Rowlinson, a tourist from London, squealed and snapped pictures with her cell phone as a massive Smurf balloon floated by a packed sidewalk along the route.

"We don't have anything like this in England,'' she exclaimed. "We have parades. We don't have any sort of huge, floating beasts. It's very cool.''

Meanwhile over in Bolsa Chica, Calif., an annual tradition by one family continued as scheduled — roasting turkeys on the beach.

About 40 members of the Beardsley family meet at the beach each year to hoist turkeys wrapped in foil and chicken wire into a customized fire pit for their Thanksgiving dinner.

"It's the best you've ever had,'' chef Sean Beardsley said.

President Obama is celebrating a quiet Thanksgiving at the White House, telephoning U.S. servicemen and women stationed around the world and dining on his favorite holiday food with family and friends.

The White House says Obama made calls thanking two members each from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy for their service and sacrifice. He wished them and their families a happy Thanksgiving, before joining his own for the holiday.

In Savannah, Ga., Brianna Miller smiled as she saw her husband marching with his unit on Hunter Army Airfield. Joshua Miller was one of nearly 240 soldiers that returned to Savannah from Afghanistan in time for Thanksgiving. The two were married for just four months when Joshua went on a yearlong deployment with other members of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade.

Detroit's parade marched on Thursday, complete with an army of clowns, floats and papier-mache heads. Known as "America's Thanksgiving Parade," it boasts of being one of the oldest and most celebrated in the country, and second in size only to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

John Fisher, who runs a warehouse, and his son Matt have been attending Detroit's Thanksgiving parade since each was a toddler. The two had their RV set up a day ahead of time, and by Thursday morning they had a prime spot for parade watching right smack-dab on Woodward Avenue downtown.

"It's always been this way,'' said 28-year-old Matt, a window cleaner. "You have to be at the parade."

John Fisher, 53, said his favorite moment each year is seeing St. Nick, whose float traditionally brings up the rear.

"Got to see Santa,'' he said, smiling. "If we don't see Santa, we're not sure he's gonna bring presents.''

But while Detroit reveled, members of the Ohio State Buckeyes practiced before breaking for Thanksgiving dinner. The Buckeyes take on their rivals, the University of Michigan Wolverines, on Saturday.

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