Football, Family, Parade Floats: Traditions Return on US Thanksgiving Day

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American footballers will pack stadiums, flock to parades and gather more freely Thursday for family feasts, grateful to re-celebrate Thanksgiving Day traditions as the pandemic kept many at home last year.

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The holiday dates back to the early 17th century, when pilgrims from Europe and Native Americans gathered to share the bounty of autumn—a celebration of goodwill before the ensuing massacre. Nowadays, the approach of the long holiday weekend usually ignites the travel frenzy as scattered families come together for holiday meals.

With COVID-19 deaths and infections rising last year, many people shared a turkey dinner on Zoom. Now that vaccines have made the pandemic more manageable, an estimated 53.4 million people will travel for Thanksgiving, up 13% from 2020, according to the American Automobile Association. Air travel is expected to recover to around 91% of pre-pandemic levels.

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Passengers wait to process through a security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on November 24, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.

Families are excited to bring many generations back together.

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“I love the craziness of cooking for a group of people and the hustle and bustle around the table and everything that goes with it,” said Tanya Primiani, who hosts 12 people at her home in Silver Spring, Maryland. , “There will be a lot of gratitude this year.”

The midnight after Thanksgiving also marks the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, offering a snapshot of the state of the economy.

Retailers began promoting online holiday “deals” in early September this year, as the ongoing supply chain threatened to delay imported goods. But while retailers cut prices by 5% to 25% on Friday, bargains remain modest, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.

An occasion to count one’s blessings, usually over a turkey dinner with side dishes and desserts, Thanksgiving also signifies giving to the poor and hungry.

Residents receive free groceries, including a turkey delivered by La Collaborativa, which fed 3500 people during the day before the Thanksgiving holiday on November 23, 2021 in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Residents receive free groceries, including a turkey delivered by La Collaborativa, which fed 3500 people during the day before the Thanksgiving holiday on November 23, 2021 in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Like many organizations, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank offered an annual free meal campaign this year to allow anyone to pick up a free meal kit before the holiday.

Food bank marketing manager Victoria Laswath said the pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in Los Angeles County. She said the organization and its affiliates now serve 900,000 people a day, more than triple the number before COVID-19.

Thanksgiving “can be a very happy time of year for all of us in general. However, for our food insecure neighbors it can bring a different kind of uncertainty,” Lasvath said. Still, Americans remain vigilant with COVID-19 infecting 95,000 people a day. More than 777,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, according to a Reuters count of official figures. But deaths are now measured in hundreds per day instead of thousands.

With hospital intensive-care units no longer overflowing, restrictions on social gatherings have been eased. That means fans will pack three National Football League stadiums on Thursday, restoring a spectacle that is part of Thanksgiving tradition. Last year there were no fans in the stands.

Similarly, spectators will return to New York City’s 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, when last year’s pageant was cut short and closed to the public.

Viewers watch as they watch the 95th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2021, in Manhattan, New York City.

Viewers watch as they watch the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2021, in Manhattan, New York City.

Parades take place in other cities, but the New York event is broadcast across the country, enabling approximately 50 million spectators to view oversized helium balloons depicting cartoon characters and toys, which rise up to 22 meters (22 ft) across. 72 feet) is the longest.

New York Police don’t provide crowd estimates, but Macy’s Parade is one of the city’s biggest annual events, along with New Year’s Eve and the LGBTQ Pride Parade, whose boosters claim millions of individual spectators.

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