A festive mood prevailed as the annual Thanksgiving parade made its way through the crowded streets of New York under brilliant sunshine. About 3.5 million people were expected to crowd the parade route, sponsor Macy's predicted, while an additional 50 million watched from home.
A jetpack-wearing monkey and a freakish creation from filmmaker Tim Burton are two of the big new balloons making inaugural appearances. They joined fan favorites like Snoopy and Spider-Man. "Those kids, they play good music and they really put on a good show," said Wilfred Denk, from Munich, as he watched the marching bands. He and his wife, Bethina, were on their honeymoon in New York.
In all, the parade featured more than 40 balloon creations, 27 floats, 800 clowns and 1,600 cheerleaders. The star power included Mary J Blige, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne and the Muppets of Sesame Street.
When the parade started in 1924, it included live animals such as camels, goats and elephants, but they were replaced by giant helium balloons in 1927. Since the beginning, the balloons have been based on popular cultural characters and holiday themes. Returning favourites this year include Buzz Lightyear, SpongeBob SquarePants and Kermit the Frog.
Barack Obama telephoned 10 US military members stationed abroad to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and praise their service. The President made the calls yesterday morning from the Oval Office to two members each from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy who are deployed in support of US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.