NEW YORK (AP) – Parents hoisted little ones atop their shoulders so they could see over the huge crowds and bigger kids scrambled up lamp posts to watch “Super Grover” and Barney float past in the annual Thanksgiving parade.

“It’s jam-packed out here,” said Simeon Brown, 41, who brought his four children and four nephews up from Charleston, S.C., to watch the extravaganza.

Under a clear, blue sky and enjoying temperatures in the mid-50s, hundreds of thousands of people packed Broadway, standing 20 deep in areas. Many were so far back they could only see the giant balloons floating overhead.

Rain dampened Thanksgiving festivities in some other areas.

James Britton kept a tight grip on a steaming mug of cappuccino as drizzle dampened the Woodward Avenue parade route in Detroit and temperatures sat in the 40s.

“It’s a necessity,” Britton, 21, said of the cappuccino. “If it had been a little colder, I might have stayed home.”

Detroit’s damp chill didn’t deter competitors in the Turkey Trot, a road race that preceded the parade. Matt Engelbrecht, 17, ran clad only in shorts and green-and-white body paint, the colors of his Lake Orion High School.

“If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it,” Engelbrecht said.

Thanksgiving dinner was a fitting observation of the holiday elsewhere.

At San Francisco’s Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, 1,200 volunteers served 6,000 meals, starting with breakfast at 7 a.m.

“I almost was in shock today to see the number of people that are in their late years coming in, but it’s very moving,” said the Rev. Cecil Williams, whose church began serving the meals 28 years ago.

A band provided dance music for some of the more than 3,000 people at the annual Thanksgiving dinner put on by the Beerman Foundation in Dayton, Ohio.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich visited a shelter for homeless families in Chicago to read a Thanksgiving tale and drop off books, hats, coats and gloves for children living there.

The children told him the moral of his tale was that Thanksgiving is about eating, sharing and watching football. The governor corrected them, saying the lesson was that “whether you’re eating turkey, whether you’re eating chicken or whether you’re eating White Castle, you’re all together.”

In spite of the enormous crowd in New York, police said there were no arrests. The fire department reported one injury, a parade clown who was taken to a hospital after a seizure.

The extravagant parade down Broadway also delivered a little New York sass as gravel-voiced actor Harvey Fierstein appeared as his flamboyant “Hairspray” character, Edna Turnblad. The “Edna” character was dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus.

The openly gay, three-time Tony Award winner mentioned his parade appearance in an op-ed piece about gay marriage in Wednesday’s New York Times. Macy’s, the parade’s sponsor, cautioned that the event was not “a platform for political and social issues.” The regular Mrs. Santa Claus had her traditional place with Santa at the back of the parade.


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