NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of Americans across the country marked Thanksgiving Day with lots of turkey, football, parades and early shopping, while many overcame nasty weather, power outages and even being buried in the snow. At the White House, President Barack Obama spent a quiet holiday with a traditional meal.
Here's a look at how Americans celebrated:
A MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY SUCCESS
Heavy security including bomb-sniffing dogs and police helicopters protected spectators of all ages who lined the route of the nationally televised Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which counted Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington bear and the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger among its six new giant balloons.
Before the parade was over, snow flurries had replaced drizzle as thousands of people discovered they could get no closer than a long block away from the colorful spectacle.
"I can't go to the front. I can only see from here," said Ivan Souza, of Florianopolis, Brazil, as he watched with his wife and two children.
Daryl Winchester, 17, of Queens, was luckier, snagging a front-row spot across the street from grandstands where the parade began.
"This is great. It's nice to feel so festive for the holidays," she said as she took pictures, waved and shouted encouragement to parade participants.
Shannon Hampton, a Lakeland, Florida, resident celebrating her 18th birthday with a friend, said the parade was exciting.
"My favorite part has to be the balloons because they are so much bigger in person than you think they would be," she said.
HOW THE FIRST FAMILY CELEBRATED
President Barack Obama spent a quiet Thanksgiving at the White House, where the belly-stuffing menu featured all the holiday's basics. He also continued a tradition of telephoning members of the armed forces to thank them for their service.
The first family feasted on thyme-roasted turkey and honey-baked ham, cornbread stuffing and oyster stuffing, braised winter greens and macaroni and cheese. Don't forget the green bean casserole, sweet potato gratin, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls and pies.
Obama said Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday "because, more than any other, it is uniquely American."
FERGUSON PROTESTS NEAR PARADE
In New York City, seven people protesting a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, were arrested after they tried to march toward the parade route, police said.
Near the end of the parade route, about 50 protesters walked down the sidewalk carrying signs and chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot."
"We will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any effort to disrupt this parade," police Commissioner William Bratton said earlier Thursday. "This is a national event, a historic event. Anybody who would seek to interrupt it would be callous, indeed, on this very special day."
Protests in New York have remained peaceful since the grand jury's decision. The streets of Ferguson were calm with the arrival of the holiday, in contrast to sometimes violent protests that occurred earlier in the week.
IN THE DARK
Power outages from a major snowstorm forced some in the Northeast to celebrate Thanksgiving much like the pilgrims and Native Americans did almost 400 years ago — in the dark.
The outages were particularly bad in northern New England, where about 200,000 customers remained without power in New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon and about 80,000 were without electricity in Maine.
More than 35,000 New York utility customers were without power Thursday afternoon and about 15,000 customers lacked power in New Jersey.
In Putney, Vermont, Mike Mrowicki was in the middle of baking squash and making apple-cranberry crisp when his lights flickered off. Mrowicki said Thursday his family will improvise on its meal for 10 people.
"We've got a gas stove, and we've got a woodstove we heat with," Mrowicki said. "We've got plenty of lanterns and candles."
The parents of two New York boys who went missing for several hours gave thanks Thursday morning after the boys were found buried in snow but alive.
Officials say a plow operator moving snow in a Newburgh parking lot didn't realize the boys had been out there playing.
A police officer found a shovel in a snow bank and started digging around 2 a.m. Then he found a small boot. Other officers, relatives and community members used shovels and their hands to help dig out the 9- and 11-year-old boys, who were conscious but suffering from exposure.
The boys were taken to a hospital, where one remains under observation.
To the delight of some and consternation of others, it's increasingly become commonplace to see stores open on Thanksgiving, as retailers try to entice shoppers inside and kick off the holiday shopping season a day earlier than the traditional Black Friday. Some of the stores open for at least part of the holiday included Kmart, Target, Sears, Macy's and Wal-Mart. Other stores, like Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom and Costco, were closed.
At a Manhattan Kmart, Pamala Hill went for the 2-for-1 shoe special.
"Yes, that's why I'm here," Hill said. "They are fitting, and they are comfortable. I'm wearing them out of the store. We are going to pay for them up front. Because I gotta get boots. My feet are freezing. I'm from Florida."
Associated Press writer Dave Gram in Montpelier, Vermont, and Associated Press video journalist Ted Shaffrey in New York contributed to this report.