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The annual Sidewalk Santa Parade is another post-Thanksgiving tradition with a huge serving of ho-ho-ho along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The 110th annual Sidewalk Santa Parade has been around since 1902. Fifty fully suited, bell-ringing Sidewalk Santas were part of the Friday festivities.

After their jolly old stroll, the Volunteers of America Santas were whisked away – not by sleigh, but by bus. The donations they raise will be used for a holiday food voucher program for needy residents.

Sidewalk Santa Parade 2012

Sidewalk Santa Parade 2012

“Our sidewalk Santas are marching and parading, as they have done for 110 years, to remind New Yorkers that now’s the time to remember our neighbors in need who are hungry,” Rachel Weinstein of Volunteers for America told NY 1.

The unique parade’s route stretched from 50th to 59th Streets down Manhattan’s glitziest Avenue.

The Saint Nicks, Kris Kringles and Father Christmases spread the holiday cheer as fir trees began cropping up on street corners around New York and stores started to play Christmas carols to get shoppers ready for the festive season.


The history of Black Friday began in 1966, when a story appeared in an ad in The American Philatelist. The Philadelphia Police Department used the name to describe the traffic jams and crowding in the downtown stores.

In the past few years media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red with profits to being in the black with profits- nice!

Black Friday has been the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season since the 1930s. In fact, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week during the Great Depression because retailers wanted an extra week of shopping revenue. This pleased retailers, but irritated shoppers, who had to change plans.

Black Friday has been the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season since the 1930s

Black Friday has been the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season since the 1930s

Black Friday has also been known as Green Friday and is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Hailing back to at around 1966, the day was originally popular in the East coast however since 2000 is more common in other parts of the country.
Because Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November. This year it falls on Friday 23rd November. Interestingly according to Reuters, in 2007 135 million people participated in the Black Friday shopping rush.

In 2008, Black Friday sales fell 3.4% from the year before, the first time since the National Retail Federation began tracking in 1992. The 2009 holiday shopping season was only up .4%, to $437.02 billion.


On Thursday, November 22nd, America celebrates Thanksgiving, the traditional harvest feast which dates back to 1621.

Check the list below for the best ways to give thanks, whether it’s on a traditional plantation or with giant helium balloons.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, New York City

There is always something going on in the city that never sleeps. But on November 22nd, all eyes turn skyward and the city turns out for one event and one event only.

The Macy’s Parade is not only attended by hundreds of thousands of people but is televised throughout the USA.

Broadway is transformed into a colorful extravaganza as floats and falloons (half-way between a float and a balloon) march together.

Barbie, Mickey Mouse and Big Bird will mingle with Uncle Sam, Santa Claus and Thanksgiving’s own Tom Turkey to parade through Times Square and down the Avenue of the Americas.

Marching bands, the Radio City Rockettes and cast members from Broadway shows will also perform alongside them.

The first notes of the Let’s Have A Parade tune which opens the event, have now come to signal the official beginning of the Christmas season in New York. www.macys.com

Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Although Thanksgiving is now better known as a festival involving giant balloons and music, there is a more authentic way to commemorate America’s forefathers.

For a taste of history and the real meaning of Thanksgiving it is best to head to Massachussetts, the birthplace of the holiday.

At the Plimoth Plantation, visitors can board the Mayflower II, which recreated the original Pilgrims’ journey in the 1950s and now forms part of a special exhibition about the voyage.

Actors dressed as Pilgrims and the indigenous Wampanoag people will guide you through the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Visitors also have the chance to explore a traditional 1627 English village, the crafts centre and, in true Thanksgiving spirit, there are a multitude of different places to eat the traditional turkey dinner.

If you’re travelling with children, this could make a great and interactive day out. www.plimoth.org

National Football League (NFL), Dallas, Texas and Detroit, Michigan

It may not be what the Pilgrims imagined their legacy to be, but one extremely popular way to celebrate Thanksgiving is by watching the classic battles between some of America’s most loved football teams.

It is not unusual for the family to settle down and watch what is referred to as Turkey Bowl as different teams – which normally include the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys – fight it out.

For visitors to the country, this could be the perfect opportunity to indulge in a truly American pastime and try and learn the rules of a baffling game.

Tickets are still available and are relatively affordable from $45. www.ticketexchangebyticketmaster.com.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, Chicago

If you thought the Macy’s parade was big then prepare yourself for the inflatable extravaganza that takes over Chicago.

One of the city’s most popular events since it started in 1934, the parade regularly pulls in crowds of 400,000.

It was first created as a way to help people feel better during the Great Depression of the 1930s so visitors to the city this Thanksgiving may feel a strange irony given the current economic climate.

Observers and balloon holders on State Street will both be hoping the Windy City does not live up to its name that day.  www.chicagofestivals.org

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City

Sales shopping in Orlando, New York and Boston

Like all great celebrations, Thanksgiving would not be a true national holiday without some cut-price bargains to encourage people to part with their cash.

And sales are particularly worthwhile at the outlet stores that are so popular with visitors to the US.

Some of the biggest outlets are Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in New York, Orlando Premium Outlets, Florida and Wrentham Village Premium Outlets in both New York and Boston.

So any shopaholics in these malls over Thanksgiving may well want to take advantage of some serious bargains.

Discounts of between 25 and 65% are offered on designer items in their Midnight Madness sale event (which actually starts at 9:00 p.m.).

The reductions will then go on for the next three days until, stuffed with turkey and shopped out, bargain hunters can survey their hoard before beginning the diet to fit back into them. www.premiumoutlets.com

Turkey bowling, Oregon

Beyond the grand parades and American football, there are actually a lot of smaller Thanksgiving celebrations taking place throughout the country.

Anyone enjoying West Coast hospitality in Oregon may want to head to one of the nation’s quirkier events.

According to these Oregon residents, nothing says Thanksgiving like bowling a Turkey.

In a new take on Turkey Bowl, Hood River offers a train ride out into the state’s most breathtaking scenery where people can enjoy a traditional holiday meal at a rural restaurant before starting on the real festivities.

This competition sees people bowling five, 10 or 20 lb turkeys in the hope of winning a variety of prizes. Taking place over the Thanksgiving weekend and costing $32 for an adult ticket and $20 for children, the day out could really add an interesting twist to the traditional Thanksgiving activities.

Skiing Thanksgiving World Cup, Aspen

Not everyone has the Thanksgiving holidays off – in fact some women will be working very hard in Aspen.

Aspiring skiers can pick up some tips watching the slalom and giant slalom events from the bleachers before heading off to try their ski legs for the first runs of the season. www.aspensnowmass.com

Turkey pardon, Washington and the pardoned turkey’s parade, Disneyland California

If you are in the Washington area and think you have a hope of swinging an invite to the White House, you may want to head there the week before Thanksgiving.

Traditionally the President holds a lighthearted gathering and pardons a turkey which is saved from becoming dinner and sent to live its life in peace.

But if, like the rest of us, it is unlikely you will be calling in at the White House, you can always catch a glimpse of the lucky turkey at Disneyland in California.

After the presidential touch grants turkeys their freedom, they are sent down to take part in the Thanksgiving Disney Parade.

They lead the spectacular parade as grand marshalls, joined by all of the familiar faces we associate with Disney. Once their duties are done, they are free to live out their days in the Frontierland part of the park. Find out more about Disneyland holidays here.