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Thanksgiving Celebrations – Creating New Traditions. The best Thanksgiving family celebrations add extra fun and quirkiness to holiday, include ways to escape from daily schedules, and provide more time for making family memories.Philadelphia Mummers Day Parade Thanksgiving R.Kennedy Visit philly

Here’s the scoop.
One day a year is set aside to officially give thanks with your family and friends. As autumn unfolds with festivals and school schedules on the calendar, it is not too soon to make plans to add more fun and a little quirkiness to your Thanksgiving experience. If Thanksgiving is at your house this year and making changes to the plan is not possible, stop reading. But if the plan is still in flux, I have a few ideas to consider - some traditional, some not so much. It is the perfect time to share family traditions or create new ones. Turn off the TV or radio, put your cellphone on airplane mode, avoid Facebook, and make your own Thanksgiving one to remember.Plymouth Massachusetts Hometown Thanksgiving Parade

Sometimes the simplest plan makes the most sense. I think the most important thing about the days surrounding Thanksgiving is to find ways to slow down and make time to appreciate the small things and give thanks for what is good and worthwhile about America. 

Step aboard the Mayflower. Plymouth, Massachusetts is the place where it all began and so celebrating begins almost a full week before the official Turkey Day with events and festivities honoring America including a delightful hometown parade. Best part: Plimoth Plantation’s living history will be in overdrive with demonstrations, 17th century dialogs, and awesome harvest dinners.
Go on a walnut hunt. All-inclusive resorts offer obvious benefits – carefree time away with all the fun included plus the turkey. For example: thanksgiving time at  Woodloch Pines Resort in the Pocono Mountains, includes a traditional family- friendly feast along with walnut hunts, hayrides, nightly entertainment, and a magical Festival of Lights hayride. Best part: The resort changes into a magical winter wonderland with of lights.
Dine with a lumberjack. Sometimes meeting in neutral space makes the holiday easier for everyone. For example: Pigeon Forge has hundreds of great spaces ideal for a family get together. The bonus to the location is the festive atmosphere of Winterfest Lights and the classic celebrations at Dollywood. To solve the dilemma of Thanksgiving Day dinner there’s the energetic, interactive Lumber Jack Feud or the always enchanting Dixie Stampede. Best Part: The Titanic museum’s awesome fireworks display. 

Count crustaceans and sample apple pie. To escape the craziness of the holiday, look for a spot just off the radar screen. For example: Spend Thanksgiving Day at Monterey Bay Aquarium for cool & calming fun. Walk through the tunnels and share time in the touch tank area. Dine at Cindy's Waterfront Restaurant in the Aquarium or secure a more traditional spot at Big Sur River Inn famous for oh so luscious, hot apple pie. 

Taste turkey or bison meatballs. Maybe Terry Bison Ranch Resort near Cheyenne, Wyoming sounds more appealing. Ride out to the middle of a bison herd or saddle up, and see the prairie the way the pioneers did. The Ranch’s Thanksgiving buffet will include traditional fare as well as bison ribs, and bison meatballs. Philadelphia Mummers Thanksgiving Day Parade M. Kennedy Visit Philly

Touch sea stars or talk with colonists. Invite the family to Thanksgiving on the beach. Dine at the Founders Inn Swan Terrace and stroll the Boardwalk at sunset or make plans to enjoy the traditional festivities at Jamestown Settlement which is hosting three days of living history focusing on the harvest time activities of Virginia’s English colonists and Powhatan Indians. Add to the weekend timTe at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center for a super cool experience touching sea stars and watching baby otters frolic. Best Part: See Holiday Lights at the Beach complete with colored lights outlining flying fish, jumping dolphins, and castles creating magical patterns against the night sky.
Combine a parade with an urban adventure. If a parade is what you are looking for – a really big parade - New York City with the kids is not the only option. Philadelphia hosts the oldest parade of its kind in the country with dozens of massive balloons, marching bands, choirs, dance groups and street performers.  Amid the chaos of the event watch for delightful Sesame Street characters or perhaps get a glimpse of Santa Claus and his elves.

In Chicago Teddy the Turkey is the official mascot, and he is accompanied by giant balloons, equestrian performers, fire twirlers, ballerinas, soul steppers, and marching bands in the Loop along State Street.Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade

Houston’s annual Holiday Parade includes awesome helium balloons, curious clowns, larger than life cartoon characters, marching bands, cheerleaders and festively decorated floats. Best Part: Philadelphia, Chicago and Houston each have CityPASS to make an urban adventure more affordable and certainly easier.

Suggestions provided by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images provided by Pymouth, Massachusetts CVB & Visit Philly Marketing Group photo credit M. Kennedy. Updated copyright 2018.  

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