PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the United States drew thousands to downtown Philadelphia Thursday morning to celebrate the National Day.
A jubilant crowd on Ben Franklin Boulevard watched the three-hour parade, the city’s 103rd such event.
The parade includes large floats, choir performers, dance troupes and marching bands.
Brad Howell told The Epoch Times he felt “very grateful.”
“I love Thanksgiving, it’s a wonderful holiday,” said Howell, who watched the parade with his family.
“We live in the great land of America. It’s the land of the free,” he said. “We are grateful to our Creator, to God, to our Heavenly Father, who gave us everything, and to be with all our brothers and sisters.”
“I think it’s important to take a moment every day to express gratitude for the many things we have,” Howell said.
“I think living with gratitude is probably the most important character trait we can try to develop in our lives. If we are grateful, all the other great qualities will follow.”
Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney told The Epoch Times that Thanksgiving is one of his favorite holidays.
“Because there’s really nothing to get all nervous or crazy about. It’s a nice peaceful day. You’re with family or friends. It’s turkey and football. You sleep in later.”
Kenny said he is very grateful for our country “where you can have what you need, where you can earn what you need.”
“And then there’s the opportunity to help people in need, and that’s what groups like this do. They’re doing a great job, and they’ve been doing it for years.”
The group Kenny was referring to was the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), which has volunteers near the start of the parade serving Thanksgiving meals to 4,000 critically or seriously ill patients in Greater Philadelphia.
Thanksgiving in the United States has its origins in an autumn harvest feast shared by English pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth in 1621.
President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, and it has been held every year since then on the fourth Thursday in November.