Parades, football and stuffing
Let the Thanksgiving festivities begin!
November 28, 1996
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Thanksgiving extravaganza was under way Thursday as millions of Americans kicked back and relaxed, taking in holiday parades, football and gobs of turkey and stuffing. (1.5M/32 sec. QuickTime movie)
Macy's revelers -- most decked out from head to toe in winter gear -- gawked and cheered wildly as elaborate floats drifted by, bands marched and enormous helium balloons of cartoon characters sailed overhead. Temperatures were in the low 20s.
The parade, which lasted nearly three hours, brought back a couple of classic balloons. A 68-foot Bullwinkle -- with Rocky the squirrel on his back -- and Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit joined Harold and Flying Fish, lovable characters from Macy's parades of yesteryear.
The other helium heroes included Garfield, Big Bird, the Cat in the Hat, Woody Woodpecker, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Barney and Spiderman.
Meanwhile, air traffic controllers were tracking a runaway balloon from a Thanksgiving parade in Philadelphia. The red-and-silver balloon has yet to be identified but was last seen soaring high over the Atlantic Ocean.
The Macy's Thanksgiving tradition began in 1924 when immigrant workers eager to celebrate their new American heritage held a public festival to herald the coming of Christmas. The parade has missed just three years since then, from 1942 through 1944 during World War II.
More than 45 million people were expected to watch Thursday's procession from home. Besides the giant balloons, the parade featured 538 clowns, 13 bands and a veritable cornucopia of celebrities, including figure skater Oksana Baiul, Miss America Tara Dawn Holland and singer-actress Vanessa Williams.
Pongo and Perdy, the pooch stars of "101 Dalmatians," embarked down the two-and-half-mile parade route in villain Cruella De Vil's roadster.
Across the nation, other Thanksgiving parades were under way, from small-town America to virtually every big city in the land.
Many people will use the holiday to help others. One of the biggest volunteer efforts is in San Antonio, Texas, where some 20,000 people -- mostly the poor, the homeless and the elderly -- were celebrating the 17th annual Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner.
Football fans also received a finger-licking turkey-day delight. The Detroit Lions were tackling the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Washington Redskins were to battle the Dallas Cowboys.
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