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Nov 27, 3:39 PM EST

US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey


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NEW YORK (AP) -- Millions of Americans across the country are marking the holiday with lots of turkey, football, parades and early shopping, while many overcoming some nasty weather and power outages. At the White House, President Barack Obama spent a quiet Thanksgiving with a traditional meal.

Here's a look at how Americans were celebrating:

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A MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY SUCCESS

Heavy security including bomb-sniffing dogs and police helicopters protected spectators of all ages who lined the route of the nationally televised Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which counted Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington bear and the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger among its six new giant balloons.

Before the parade was over, snow flurries had replaced drizzle as thousands of people discovered they could get no closer than a long block away from the colorful spectacle.

"I can't go to the front. I can only see from here," said Ivan Souza of Florianopolis, Brazil, as he watched with his wife and two children.

Daryl Winchester, 17, of Queens, was luckier, snagging a front-row spot across the street from grandstands where the parade began.

"This is great. It's nice to feel so festive for the holidays," she said as she took pictures, waved and shouted encouragement to parade participants.

Shannon Hampton, a Lakeland, Florida, resident celebrating her 18th birthday with a friend said the parade was exciting.

"My favorite part has to be the balloons because they are so much bigger in person than you think they would be," she said.

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HOW THE FIRST FAMILY IS CELEBRATING

President Barack Obama is spending a quiet Thanksgiving at the White House where the belly-stuffing menu featured all the holiday's basics. He also continued a tradition of telephoning members of the armed forces to thank them for their service.

The first family feasted on thyme-roasted turkey and honey-baked ham, cornbread stuffing and oyster stuffing, braised winter greens and macaroni and cheese. Don't forget the green bean casserole, sweet potato gratin, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls and pies.

Obama says Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday "because, more than any other, it is uniquely American."

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FERGUSON PROTESTS NEAR PARADE

In New York City, six men and a woman protesting a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, were arrested after they tried to march toward the parade route, police said.

Near the end of the parade route, about 50 protesters walked down the sidewalk carrying signs and chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot."

"We will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any effort to disrupt this parade," police Commissioner William Bratton said earlier Thursday. "This is a national event, a historic event. Anybody who would seek to interrupt it would be callous, indeed, on this very special day."

Protests in New York have remained peaceful since the grand jury's decision. The streets of Ferguson were calm with the arrival of the holiday, in contrast to sometimes violent protests that occurred earlier in the week.

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IN THE DARK

Power outages from the first major snowstorm of the season forced some in the Northeast to celebrate Thanksgiving much like the pilgrims and Native Americans did almost 400 years ago - in the dark.

The outages were particularly bad in northern New England, where about 180,000 customers remained without power in New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon and about 80,000 without electricity in Maine.

More than 35,000 New York utility customers were without power Thursday afternoon and about 15,000 customers lacked power in New Jersey.

In Putney, Vermont, Mike Mrowicki was in the middle of baking squash and making apple-cranberry crisp when his lights flickered off. Mrowicki said Thursday that they will improvise on their meal for 10 people.

"We've got a gas stove, and we've got a woodstove we heat with," Mrowicki said. "We've got plenty of lanterns and candles."

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HOLIDAY SHOPPING

To the delight of some and consternation of others, it's increasingly become commonplace to see stores open on Thanksgiving, as retailers try to entice shoppers inside and kick off the holiday shopping season a day earlier than the traditional Black Friday. Some of the stores open for at least part of the day on the holiday include Kmart, Target, Sears, Macy's and Wal-Mart. Other stores, like Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom and Costco, are closed.

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Associated Press writer Dave Gram contributed to this report from Montpelier, Vermont.

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