It’s approaching that time of year again when the USA take a day to say thanks and spend time with family around a table heaving with turkey, stuffing, vegetables and pumpkin pie.
The day has been celebrated nationally since George Washington, the first president of the United States, declared the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789 – before that, different communities celebrated it at different times.
How did this day come about in the first place? Well, the story goes that in 1621, the newly-arrived pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts, were slowly starving due to a devastating winter when the Wampanoag Indians stepped in to help. After teaching the pilgrims how to farm the land, the two groups enjoyed a successful harvest, gave thanks to God and feasted together for three days.
This year, Thanksgiving falls on Thursday 28 November. Even if you haven’t got an all-American Thanksgiving dinner to attend, you can still celebrate the day by turning up to one of the country’s gargantuan parades. Here are three of the biggest and best:
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City
Synonymous with Thanksgiving Day and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade pulls out all the stops to create an awe-inspiring carousel of flamboyant floats, marching bands, musical acts and suspended cartoon characters. You might have seen this parade featured on Christmas favourite, Miracle on 34th Street.
Stay at HI Manhattan Hostel this Thanksgiving and you’ll be within walking distance to this spectacular parade route.
6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, Philadelphia
Philadelphia hosts the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country – it’s in its 94th year! Beginning on 20th Street and JFK Boulevard and rounding up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this parade features top celebrities, performances from local choirs, dance groups and the classic marching bands. As if all that wasn’t enough, Santa Claus also makes an appearance!
You can wake up right by the action if you stay at the fantastic HI Apple Hostel, ranked as America’s third best hostel in 2009. Alternatively, there’s a grand mansion waiting for you in a leafy area close-by – HI Chamonix Mansion, built in 1802, sits in the heart of Fairmount Park.
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Chicago
You’ll see a riot of colour and an eclectic mix of characters marching, floating and dancing along Downtown Chicago’s State Street this Thanksgiving. The parade began during the time of America’s Great Depression and its purpose was to list the spirits of Chicago – something it’s been doing on an annual basis ever since. As well as an appearance from Santa to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, parade sponsor Ronald McDonald also pops in.
Base yourself in the centre of things by staying at HI Chicago which is located Downtown where all the action takes place.