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Day of Giving Finds Room For Traditions of All Kinds

November 24, 2000|From Associated Press

Parades, politics and protests. Musicians and track stars at homeless shelters. Thanksgiving meant something different to millions of Americans observing the holiday.

For die-hard parade spectators, it was a chance to enjoy an endless stream of floats, cheerleaders and clowns--despite frigid temperatures.

In New York City, the trademark display of helium balloons and marching bands in the 74th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took place without a hitch despite a threat of balloon-stopping winds Wednesday.

The three-hour event in temperatures barely above freezing featured 14 helium balloons, 20 floats and 29 units of clowns. The Mickey Mouse balloon--a 40-foot-tall drum-toting rodent in a red and gold uniform--returned after 18 years.

"It's turkey day. It's really important to make people laugh," said Silvia Stein, 26, who, along with her brother Guido, 23, rode the train from Stamford, Conn., in turkey costumes made by their mother.

Henrietta Kershaw was one of thousands of Philadelphians who lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Thursday to watch the city's 81-year-old Thanksgiving Parade. "I wanted my kids to have the same memories I did when I was a child. My father brought us every year to the parade," Kershaw said.

For volunteers, the holiday was a chance to feed the hungry.

In Atlanta, about 30,000 Thanksgiving dinners were dished out at the 30th annual Hosea's Feed the Hungry and Homeless, founded by Hosea Williams. The 74-year-old civil rights veteran died last week of complications from kidney cancer.

"I just wanted to be a part of this. As a young black man, I aspire to follow in [Williams'] footsteps," said rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs, who funded this year's seven-course dinner. He was joined by Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes and Olympic track gold medalist Gail Devers.

For the first time at the 150-member Thomas Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., the men took on the challenge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Native Americans marked the holiday differently. In southeast Colorado, the four-day 187-mile Sand Creek Massacre Healing Run began where nearly 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were killed in 1864 by Colorado militia members.

In Massachusetts, a group of about 250 Native Americans participated in the National Day of Mourning, an annual event commemorating atrocities upon Indians since the Pilgrims stopped in Plymouth in 1620.

"They think Thanksgiving is a happy thing, like New Year's or Christmas, but it's not for us Indians," said Sam Sapiel, 69, a Penobscot Indian.

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