PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—The oldest Thanksgiving parade in the nation returned to the center city of Philadelphia on Thursday. It’s a time for families and communities to come together, give thanks, and kick off the holiday season with joy and excitement.
The parade included an array of massive floats, choir performers, dance groups, and marching bands.
The parade also serves as a platform to raise awareness and support for charitable organizations such as the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), which had volunteers near the parade’s end site, delivering Thanksgiving meals to 4,000 people with critical or serious illness in Greater Philadelphia.
Thanksgiving in America has its roots in a 1621 autumn harvest feast shared by the English Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. However, it was former President Abraham Lincoln who officially declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. Since then, it has been observed on the fourth Thursday of November each year, bringing families and communities together.
‘Thanksgiving is the Time to Give Thanks’This is the third year that Warren Kalbach has participated in the Thanksgiving Day Parade with the big turkey balloon.
Mr. Kalbach told The Epoch Times: “We do a lot of spinning of the turkey at the intersections. We spin the turkey for the children, and it’s just a lot of fun.” The people holding the giant balloon are all volunteers.
Mr. Kalbach said he comes from a very large family. He said after the parade, they would have a big Thanksgiving dinner.
Philadelphia Mayor: Be Good to PeoplePhiladelphia Mayor Jim Kenney feels Thanksgiving is different from other holidays.
“Sometimes Christmas and other holidays are a little more emotional and nostalgic. You think about people that are not around anymore,” he said. “Thanksgiving is just a kind of neutral holiday when you just enjoy yourself, enjoy the family, enjoy good food, and just be thankful for what you have.”
Mr. Kenney said he always celebrates Thanksgiving with turkey: “This year, we’re going to a friend’s house, so we don’t have much cleanup to do anymore.”
He thinks people should be always kind to each other.
‘It’s Really About Family’Kyle B. Thompson, a director and producer for multiple films, has been coming to the Philadelphia Thanksgiving parade for the last 30 years.
Mr. Thompson told The Epoch Times: “I’ve been coming to this parade since I was a little kid. So I have the opportunity now to bring my children to it. And it’s kind of a little nostalgic for me. So it’s always good to come here every year and see the family together and celebrate Thanksgiving.”
Mr. Thompson is 35 years old and has two kids. He has been coming to the parades since he was four. He said “growing up in this city and growing up coming to this parade. For me, it’s really about family.”
“I think that meaning of being able to relive my childhood through my children is kind of neat. So it’s cool to share that experience with them,” Mr. Thompson said.
From Missouri to PhiladelphiaVisitors from other cities who joined the Philadelphia Thanksgiving parade included Missouri couple Ryan and Lindy O'Rourke, who drove 16 hours to Philadelphia because their daughter was in the parade with the Missouri Truman High School marching band.
It was the first high school in the state of Missouri to come to this parade.
“Yeah, that’s amazing,” Ms. O'Rourke said. “We celebrated with our families.”
Mr. O'Rourke said: “The significance of Thanksgiving is our family and having dinner with all of our aunts and uncles and grandparents and remembering good happy times, and with our parents.”
‘Thank God for Today’Both Dominique Hurdle and Edward Ferguson enjoyed watching the parade too.
“I like to celebrate Thanksgiving with my friends and family,” Ms. Hurdle said. “The significance is spending it with family, spending it with friends. And thank God for today!” She came from New York.
Mr. Ferguson loved the parade too. “I love it. I’m seeing all the Disney characters, all the movie characters. There are great bands coming by. It’s great for kids. It is very festive.”
‘The Most Important Thing Here on Earth Is Our Families’Elder Cottam and his friends are missionaries and they had a whiteboard beside the parade route. They asked people to write down “What are you thankful for.”
Mr. Cottam told The Epoch Times: “We’re just trying to get back to the community and tell people that there’s greater hope than the things that are going on around here.”
He thinks it’s time that people get to come together as families. He said he would meet with friends, family, and church members to do some charitable things.
Mr. Cottam added: “The most important thing here on Earth is our families, and the chance that we have to be together during the holiday season is really significantly important to me.”