NEW YORK - Americans paused Thursday to celebrate their blessings despite terrorism fears and racial tensions over fatal police shootings across the country. A record number of police officers patrolled the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, while St. Louis resumed its annual parade, canceled last year amid protests over Michael Brown's death.
Spectators at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York noted a stepped-up police presence, with officers perched on buildings and watching from helicopters. "It's a little scary, but at least it's keeping us safe," Kim Miller, of Boston, said of the heavy security. "We're having fun."
City officials have said there are no known, credible threats against New York following the deadly attacks in Paris and a video purportedly produced by the Islamic State that contained footage of Times Square. But Police Commissioner William Bratton said more than 2,500 officers would nevertheless be stationed along the parade route for the Thanksgiving festivities - the largest number of officers the department has ever assigned to the event.
The parade, in its 89th year, included marching bands and floats along with Hello Kitty, Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants and other giant balloons.
In St. Louis, a modest-size crowd gathered on an unseasonably warm morning for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade that was canceled last year amid protests and widespread arrests over the death of Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, and other police shootings.
The 2014 parade was supposed to be held several days after a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in Brown's death.
After two days of demonstrations following the release of a video that shows a white Chicago police officer shooting and killing black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, protest organizers said there were no marches planned for Thanksgiving. Instead, they said they were preparing for a march through the city's famed shopping district, the Magnificent Mile, on Friday.
Enjoying dinner at the White House with his family, President Obama said Thanksgiving is a day for food, football and hoping "the turkey didn't turn out too dry."