Wednesday, 26 November 2008


" Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off rings, and a thankful strain."
Alexander Pope

In 1620, a boat filled with over 100 people sailed from England across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in the New World. The group had begun to question the beliefs of the Church of England and they wanted to seperate from it. The Pilgrims settled in what is now the state of Massachusetts and their first winter in the New World was extremely difficult. They had arrived too late to grow many crops, and without fresh food, half the colony died. The following spring the Iroquois Indians taught them how to grow corn (maize), a new food for the colonists. They showed them other crops to grow in the unfamiliar soil and how to hunt and fish.

In the autumn of 1621, bountiful crops of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins were harvested. The colonists had much to be thankful for, so a feast was planned. They invited the local Indian chief and 90 indians who brought deer to roast with the turkeys and other wild game offered by the colonists. To this very first Thanksgiving, the indians had even brought popcorn.

Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November, a different date every year and affords everybody the opportunity to relax, enjoy a sumptuous turkey roast dinner with family and friends, watch sport and generally have a good time. For many in New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an unmissable attraction, particularly the children.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is an annual event presented by Macy's Department store. The three-hour event is held in NYC starting at 9.00am EST on Thanksgiving. In the 1920's many of Macy's employees were first generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe.

In 1924, the annual Thanksgiving Parade started by Louis Bamberger in Newark, New Jersey at the Bamberger's store was transfered to New York by Macy's. In New York, the employees marched to Macy's flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes. There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that parade, as has become the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was such a success that Macy's declared it would become an annual event - only missing the World War II years.

Large animal-shaped balloons produced by The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio replaced the live animals in 1927 when Felix the Cat balloon made its debut using air for inflation but by the next year helium was used to fill the expanding use of balloons. The balloons for the parade are inflated the day before on both sides of the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. The balloons are split up between 77th and 81st Streets between Central Park and Columbus Avenue. The inflation is open to the public the afternoon and night before the parade.

And finally, our best wishes for a happy, relaxing and peaceful 2008 Thanksgiving Day are warmly extended to all in New York City and beyond, especially for our Manhattan domiciled son, who is always in our thoughts.

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