Big balloons, heavy security for NYC Thanksgiving parade

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Thanksgiving Parade Is Full of Hot Air

NEW YORK (AP) -- Americans paused Thursday to celebrate their blessings despite terrorism fears and racial tensions over fatal police shootings across the country. A record number of police officers patrolled the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, while St. Louis resumed its annual parade, canceled last year amid protests over Michael Brown's death.

At the White House, President Barack Obama spent a quiet holiday with a traditional meal. Here's a look at how other Americans celebrated:

See images from the iconic parade:

17 PHOTOS
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2015
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Big balloons, heavy security for NYC Thanksgiving parade
A Hello Kitty float goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
A thanksgiving turkey float goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
The Ronald McDonald balloon goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
The Police Officer balloon goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
The Sponge Bob Square Pants balloon goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: General atmosphere of the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
A Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
People pass the Snoopy with Woodstock balloon as preparations continue for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: General atmosphere of the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Santa and Mrs. Claus attend the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
The Kool Aid balloon goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
A marching band walks down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
The balloon Angry Bird is moved through Columbus Circle during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: General atmosphere of the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: The Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Balloon Takes Flight At The 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Saban Brands)
The Skylander balloon goes down 6th Avenue for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as seen from above street level on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
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TIGHT SECURITY FOR SNOOPY AND SPONGEBOB

Spectators at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York noted a stepped-up police presence, with officers perched on buildings like Radio City Music Hall and watching from helicopters hovering overhead.

"It's a little scary, but at least it's keeping us safe," Kim Miller, of Boston, said of the heavy security. "We're having fun."

City officials have said there are no known, credible threats against New York following the deadly attacks in Paris and a video purportedly produced by the Islamic State group that contained footage of Times Square. But Police Commissioner William Bratton said more than 2,500 officers would nevertheless be stationed along the parade route for the Thanksgiving festivities — the largest number of officers the department has ever assigned to the event.

Watch more coverage:

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo Celebrate Thanksgiving Day Parade

The parade, in its 89th year, included marching bands and floats along with Hello Kitty, Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants and other giant balloons.

Pamela and Tom Popp of Ridgefield, New Jersey, said they've come to the parade every year for at least 20 years.

"It's just a very special part of our holiday," Pamela Popp said. "We're very proud of New York City and this wonderful tradition."

Her husband noted the right security. "I see the cops on top of Radio City," Tom Popp said. "Never saw that before."

PARADE RETURNS IN ST. LOUIS

In St. Louis, a modest-sized crowd gathered on an unseasonably warm morning for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade that was canceled last year amid protests and widespread arrests over the death of Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, and other police shootings.

The 2014 parade was supposed to be held several days after a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict former Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in Brown's death.

CHICAGO PROTESTERS PAUSE

After two days of demonstrations following the release of a video that shows a white Chicago police officer shooting and killing black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, protest organizers said there were no marches planned for Thanksgiving. Instead, they said they were preparing for a march through the city's famed shopping district, the Magnificent Mile, on Friday.

AT THE WHITE HOUSE, KALE TWO WAYS

Obama says Thanksgiving is a day for food, football and hoping "the turkey didn't turn out too dry."

Even if the White House's thyme-roasted bird didn't turn out to be the moistest, the first family's menu boasted more than enough other choices to fill the stomach.

There was honey-baked ham with apricot-mustard glaze, and prime rib and creamed horseradish, according to the White House. And two kinds of stuffing: cornbread with chorizo and "roasted peppers oyster."

As for the veggies, the Obamas could enjoy some braised winter greens -- collards, kale, and turnip greens -- in addition to kale Caesar salad. Green bean casserole, too.

Plus, the macaroni and cheese, sweet potato gratin and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes

As for dessert, it seemed Pie Day came early: banana cream, coconut cream, pumpkin, apple, pecan and cherry.

EARLIER: Turkeys pardoned at the White House:

15 PHOTOS
2015 Turkey Pardon, Honest and Abe
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Big balloons, heavy security for NYC Thanksgiving parade
President Barack Obama, with National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas, applaud during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, where the president pardoned National Thanksgiving Turkey Abe. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama, with National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas, center, and handler Joe Hedden, prepares to pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey Abe, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. This is the 68th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Barack Obama speaks next to daughters Malia (R) and Sasha before 'pardoning' the National Thanksgiving Turkey in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 25, 2015. The President pardoned Honest and his alternate Abe, both 18-week old, 40-pound turkeys. The names of the turkeys were chosen from submissions from California school children. After the pardoning, the turkeys will be on display for visitors at their permanent home at Morven Parks Turkey Hill, the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama pardons Abe, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. This is the 68th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Sasha Obama, left, shares a laugh with her dad President Barack Obama during an event to pardon Abe, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. This is the 68th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
This picture taken Nov. 19, 2015, in Modesto, Calif., shows a turkey selected for a pardon from the Thanksgiving dinner table by President Obama. A class of fifth grade students from nearby Eisenhut Elementary School cheered for their favorite as Foster Farms staffers picked the prized bird. The lucky turkey was selected on Thursday for a trip to the White House, where President Obama will pardon it in an annual tradition. (AP Photo/Scott Smith)
President Barack Obama, standing with National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas, applaud during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, where the president pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey Abe. This is the 68th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Malia Obama, daughter of U.S. President Barack Obama, participates in the turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a tradition dating back to 1947, the president pardons a turkey, sparing the tom -- and his alternate -- from becoming a Thanksgiving Day feast. This year, Americans were asked to choose which of two turkeys would be pardoned and to cast their votes on Twitter. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks with his daughters Sasha (L) and Malia during the annual turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a tradition dating back to 1947, the president pardons a turkey, sparing the tom -- and his alternate -- from becoming a Thanksgiving Day feast. This year, Americans were asked to choose which of two turkeys would be pardoned and to cast their votes on Twitter. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama(L)prepares to 'pardon' the National Thanksgiving Turkey in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 25, 2015. The President pardoned Honest and his alternate Abe, both 18-week old, 40-pound turkeys. The names of the turkeys were chosen from submissions from California school children. After the pardoning, the turkeys will be on display for visitors at their permanent home at Morven Parks Turkey Hill, the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24: Two turkeys participate in a media availability at the Willard Inter Continental Hotel ahead of being 'pardoned' by US President Barack Obama at the White House November 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. The names of the main turkey and his alternate will be announced at the annual White House ceremony on November 25. Both turkeys will reside at their new home, Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24: Jihad Douglas, chairman of the National Turkey Federation introduces two turkeys during a media availability at the Willard Inter Continental Hotel ahead of their 'pardon' by US President Barack Obama at the White House November 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. The names of the main turkey and his alternate will be announced at the annual White House ceremony on November 25. Both turkeys will reside at their new home, Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 06: A Nicholas White turkey, one of two presidential turkey candidates, sits in an enclosure during a press conference at the InterContinental Hotel on November 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Two presidential turkey candidates, known as Tom 1 and Tom 2, are contending for the honor of being named the 2015 National Thanksgiving turkey and being pardoned by U.S. president Barack Obama during a pardoning ceremony at the White House before Thanksgiving. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Men dressed as secret service agents stand guard next to two Nicholas White turkeys that are presidential turkey candidates during a press conference at the InterContinental Hotel on November 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Two presidential turkey candidates, known as Tom 1 and Tom 2, are contending for the honor of being named the 2015 National Thanksgiving turkey and being pardoned by U.S. president Barack Obama during a pardoning ceremony at the White House before Thanksgiving. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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A PARADE TRADITION IN DETROIT

For Arthur Galea, getting to Detroit on Thanksgiving for the city's annual parade has been a 65-year tradition.

He has missed only three over that time, Galea told the Detroit Free Press from the parade route.

"I sleep overnight here," said Galea, 90, of West Branch. "We all have Thanksgiving dinner here."

The family was among tens of thousands of spectators who lined Woodward Avenue for America's Thanksgiving Parade.

The lineup included 180 clowns, 150 papier-mache Big Heads, 25 floats and 13 marching bands. Actor Tim Allen served as grand marshal.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Retailers that started opening on Thanksgiving in recent years have settled into times that don't interfere with the turkey feast.

Most of the more than a dozen major retailers like Macy's, Target and Kohl's are sticking with their 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. openings. One big exception: J.C. Penney, which is opening two hours earlier at 3 p.m. Staples has reversed course and will close on the holiday. And sporting goods chain REI, which was always closed on Thanksgiving, is bowing out of Black Friday, too.

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