Thanksgiving Pastimes

By Betsy Andrews

Published on October 14, 2009

Cooking and eating may be the dominant activities for most Americans on Thanksgiving Day, but two other noble traditions have always vied for third place: football and parades. The ritual of playing and (in the case of most of us) watching football on Thanksgiving is almost as old as the holiday itself; the first intercollegiate Turkey Day game was played between Yale and Princeton, in 1876. Professional leagues adopted the practice in 1920. As for parades, the one put on by Macy's in New York City may be the most famous, but the first was staged by the now defunct Gimbels in Philadelphia, in 1920. The Macy's parade came along four years later and featured, among other wonders, animals from the Central Park Zoo. The helium balloons, depicting characters like Snoopy and Popeye, came decades later.

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