NEW YORK - Unseasonably balmy weather, with temperatures near 60 degrees, helped draw tens of thousands to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade yesterday.
Shrieking children struggled to contain themselves as Barbie rolled past and enormous Shrek and Snoopy balloons floated overhead along the mid-Manhattan parade route.
As the floats, helium balloons, marching bands, and roller-blading clowns went by, 5-year-old Lauren Geiger of Freeport had no problem ticking off her favorite parade characters: Dora the Explorer, Shrek, and Scooby Doo.
"And we're going to see Santa. Did you know that?" said her mother, Dorothea, eliciting a squeal.
About 10,000 participants in the parade - many of them holding down the buoyant balloons - followed the parade route down the west side of Central Park, then down Broadway through Times Square to the Macy's store on Herald Square.
The lineup included three new balloons, 2,000 cheerleaders, 800 clowns, and the Radio City Rockettes. The balloons and floats evoked Disney more than the Pilgrims' Mayflower.
In Detroit, drizzle, snow, and temperatures in the 30s didn't deter thousands of people from lining up to watch America's Thanksgiving Parade.
Some spectators took their eyes off the parade to gawk at a 3-year-old dog named Diamond dressed as Santa Claus, complete with red tasseled cap.
"Last year, she was Minnie Mouse," said owner Shelita Porter, 33. "I think of her as my child. And she enjoys her clothes. When I pull her clothes out, she knows it's time to go."
The parades headlined celebrations across the nation that also featured football games - from traditional tilts among high school rivals to three NFL games - and family dinners with too much food on the table.
President Bush, spending the holiday at the Camp David retreat in Maryland, called several men and women serving in the armed forces in Iraq.
"He called to wish the members of the military and their families and the troops that they are serving with a happy Thanksgiving," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. "He said, 'I can't tell you how impressed I am by the courage and compassion of our troops.' He thanked them for their service."
The crew of the International Space Station put together a special Thanksgiving message that was shown on NASA Television and the agency's website.
"We wanted to say happy Thanksgiving to all our NASA viewers," said Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson, an Iowa native.
"We feel particularly privileged and thankful to be up here on board the International Space Station this Thanksgiving, and we're looking forward to our activities this week," she said. "We have a busy week with spacewalks, and we hope that you also are having a great Thanksgiving."