New York's Thanksgiving Parade

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Thanks to the silver screen, even travellers who've never set foot in North America are familiar with Thanksgiving and all of its trimmings. For an authentic feast, head to New York City for the Macy's annual parade.

Held on the fourth Thursday in November, the holiday is up there with Christmas as an excuse for gorging on turkey and snoozing in front of the TV.

The celebration, which takes place in Canada on the second Monday in October, has its roots in the New World’s rugged colonial beginnings. The Pilgrim Fathers held a feast to celebrate their first American harvest and to thank the aboriginal people who had helped them settle in. American presidents have offered thanksgiving to God since the 18th century, when George Washington expressed the USA’s appreciation for its new constitution.

Today, fingers on the remote control are torn between the boss’ wise words and American football games, played by devoted athletes who have laid off the turkey. Away from the couch, towns from coast to coast fill with patriotic parades, the biggest of which attracts 2.5 million spectators to New York City. Run by Macy’s department stores since 1924, the 4km parade of ‘falloons’ (balloon-come-floats) employs a merry band of 4000 volunteers.

The parade finishes on 7th Avenue, near the flagship Macy’s branch on Herald Square. With over 90,000 sq metres of goodies, it’s promoted as ‘the world’s largest store’.

Further information: check the Macy's website. Just be sure to turn the sound down!

And if you'd like a road trip that takes in a little more of the US than Manhattan, pick up a copy of our New York, Washington & Mid-Atlantic Trips book; it's full of roads less travelled.