Americans mark the annual Thanksgiving holiday Thursday with family gatherings, meals, parades, fun runs and bargain shopping.
In New York, record crowds were expected in for the 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is being held under tight security just two weeks after the Paris terror attacks.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said more than 2,500 officers will be stationed along the parade route — the largest number of officers the department has ever assigned to the event.
New York officials said they expected about 3 million spectators would turn out for the city’s signature parade, held Thursday morning (local time), in which dozens of giant helium balloons depicting popular cartoon characters, accompanied by floats, volunteers and entertainers, snake through 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of Manhattan streets.
Globally, about 50 million people were expected to watch the televised parade.
City officials urged residents and visitors to enjoy the holiday, saying there were no credible threats to the city.
In his weekly address, President Barack Obama wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving and reflected on America’s history of welcoming men and women seeking a safer, better future for themselves and their families.
On this uniquely American holiday, the president recognized the greatness of American generosity, as evidenced by people around the country who use the day to volunteer and give back to others.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama took care of business, both frivolous and serious. He conducted the traditional “turkey pardon,” assuring two specially-selected turkeys in a White House ceremony that they would not be made into Thanksgiving dinner. The two birds, “Honest,” and “Abe,” will be sent to a turkey park to greet their fans in a public display area.
The president also took on more serious business: reassuring the nation that at a time of heightened security, there is no need to worry about terrorist threats as they go about their holiday travels and traditions.
In his remarks at the White House, Obama said it is “understandable” that Americans are anxious about the possibility of attacks, but the government has no “credible, specific” information about any threats.
Obama and his family also continued a family tradition, serving a Thanksgiving holiday meal at a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C.
The Thanksgiving celebration is traditionally held on the fourth Thursday in November and marks the beginning of a holiday season that culminates in New Year’s celebrations in early January.
The day after Thanksgiving Day is a day for big sales on clothing, toys, and appliances, as people begin their holiday shopping in earnest.
So-called “Black Friday” sales begin Thursday on Thanksgiving Day, or even a few days before, and generally end the following Monday, known as Cyber Monday. According to the National Retail Federation, about 68 million people in the U.S. say they expect to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend.