NEW YORK, N.Y. - Airports, train stations and highways were expected to remain busy as Americans made their way home to reconnect with family and friends for Thanksgiving — although some reunions might be bittersweet because of the damage and displacement caused by Superstorm Sandy.
For some, the once-sacrosanct harvest feast now starts the holiday shopping season — and store openings keep getting earlier. Black Friday now starts on Thanksgiving day itself at many national stores and some shoppers eagerly race from their dinner tables to line up for bargains, delaying their second helpings until they've purchased the latest toys or electronic devices.
The popular Macy's thanksgiving Day Parade, attended by more than 3 million people and watched by 50 million on television, was scheduled to kick off in New York City.
This year, the giant balloons were to welcome Elf on a Shelf and Papa Smurf. A new version of Hello Kitty was to be included while Buzz Lightyear, Sailor Mickey Mouse and the Pillsbury Doughboy remained in the lineup. Real life stars were to include Carly Rae Jepsen and Rachel Crow of "The X Factor."
Other cities planned to have showy marching bands, cartoon character balloons, and musical extravaganzas, as well. Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit were among the big cities hosting parades.
The holiday came as portions of the Northeast still were reeling from Superstorm Sandy's havoc, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his office would co-ordinate the distribution of 26,500 meals at 30 sites in neighbourhoods affected by Sandy, and other organizations also were pitching in.