America has been celebrating Thanksgiving for a really long time – almost 400 years, to be exact. However, we’ve hardly been celebrating it the exact same way over all that time. The Pilgrims of Plymouth celebrated by putting aside differences with the indigenous people of the regions and partaking in the bounty of their first successful harvest together. Many aspects of this first celebration have remained firmly in place – like the mouthwateringly decadent dinners that are near universal – but a lot has changed over the years as well.
Various regions and communities have also developed their own unique ways of making Thanksgiving their very own, especially when it comes to special events. Here we’ll take a closer look at some of the absolute best and most noteworthy.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan
When it comes to Thanksgiving Day events that are considered absolute musts for nearly every American, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is at the top of the list for millions of Americans. First established in 1924, it’s the oldest parade of its kind in the entire country. Like many long-standing Thanksgiving traditions, it’s also evolved quite a bit since those first early days.
The first Macy’s parade featured real live animals borrowed from New York’s own Central Park Zoo. However, the animals would eventually be replaced by the colorful, whimsical balloons that are the event’s signature today. Today, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade not only attracts millions of attendees, but finds its way into roughly 50 million additional homes each year via broadcast television.
America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration
If you figured that Plymouth, Massachusetts – the official birthplace of Thanksgiving – would have a special way of celebrating the holiday, you’d absolutely be right. America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration takes place on the third weekend of November each and every year.
Festivities include everything from historical reenactments, to themed concerts, to parades. There’s even a food festival where Thanksgiving lovers can sample traditional New England seasonal fare at its finest. Explore military encampments, shop the harvest market, and more
Black Friday at Mall of America
For millions of Americans, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings is only part of what goes into a Thanksgiving weekend well spent. For those people, getting their holiday shopping season off to a good start on Black Friday is an absolute must. However, there’s Black Friday shopping … and then there’s Black Friday shopping at Minnesota’s iconic Mall of America.
Mall of America features over 500 different shops, as well as a massive selection of services and amenities. However, Black Friday shopping here is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to fight massive crowds and hundreds of overzealous shoppers for first crack at all those sweet, sweet door-buster deals.
Detroit’s Annual Turkey Trot
Activity-conscious people that are eager to work off a few of those extra helpings as soon as possible love nothing more than a good turkey trot, and Detroit features one of the very best out there. Not only is it ahead of the game for its comprehensive collection of road race offerings, but it comes attached to fun of the type you might not expect. (Its annual costume contest is a great example.)
Marathon enthusiasts and spectators alike can look forward to a variety of different events, including the Mashed Potato Mile, the 10K Turkey Trot, and the 5K Stuffing Trot. (The Mashed Potato Mile is suitable for even senior citizens and children.) Once the runs are all over, people gather in downtown Detroit for some early shopping, as well as a peep at the city’s amazing America’s Thanksgiving Parade.
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago
Macy’s may boast the best-known branded Thanksgiving parade out there, but it’s far from the only one. If you live anywhere near Chicago, you’ll definitely want to check out the McDonald’s parade.
The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a local staple since it was first established in 1934. Attendees can look forward to seeing Ronald McDonald, Santa Claus, and a cast of thousands walking the streets and bringing smiles to over 400,000 people early Thanksgiving morning.
Of course, these are just a few of the many Thanksgiving-tide events that represent wonderful ways to kick off the holiday season in style and which are well worth traveling for.