Millions of Americans braved congested roads, airports and train stations to get to someone else's house for Thanksgiving turkey this year as harsh weather caused treacherous conditions in some parts of the country.
Meanwhile, most of the more than 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq got a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the trimmings at their bases Thursday. In Baghdad, they were visited by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who called their service "a huge sacrifice, but a sacrifice for a good cause."
"It's not my grandmother's dinner but it was pretty good," Sgt. Amber Ott at Camp Prosperity in Baghdad, told FOX News about the Thanksgiving feast provided for the troops. "They did a great job, a great, great job. I couldn't have expected anything better than what they did, it was awesome."
Although Ott ate turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, among other tasty treats, she opted out of partaking of the roasted stuffed pigs lying on the dinner tables being carved up.
"They freaked me out, big time. The little olive eyeballs — they freaked me out," Ott said.
Soldiers in Baghdad also ran in a 5-kilometer "Turkey Trot" race, then enjoyed a large big spread including turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, shrimp cocktail and about five kinds of pie for dessert.
North of Baghdad, country music star Aaron Tippin was scheduled to give a concert to soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division at Forward Operating Base Speicher.
In Qaim, U.S. Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion spoke Thursday about missing family and friends back home as they prepared to spend their Thanksgiving on patrol near the Syrian border.
"Serving my country is important but losing friends makes me more thankful for what I have and for what I used to take for granted," said Cpl. Brian Zwart, 20, of Fruitport, Mich., who operates a 25mm cannon atop an armored personnel carrier.
Governors from Georgia, Kansas, Michigan and Mississippi served food and ate with U.S. troops in Kuwait on Thursday at Camp Arifjan, which serves as a logistics camp. Soldiers there are either from that camp or visiting from others in the region.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace said that this Thanksgiving, everyone should take a moment to give thanks to 225,000 American troops serving in the Gulf Region, and their families.
"They are providing to us the freedoms that allow us to have these kinds of holidays," Pace told FOX News in an interview. "So for the PFCs and lance corporals who are going to be watching this, I want to say 'thank you' for sacrificing part of your life, sacrificing what you'd prefer to be doing — be home with your family — to serve this country."
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, which started in 1924, kicked off at 9 a.m. ET after some questioned whether the winds would pose a safety problem with the balloons. But city officials, meeting with police and Macy's parade hosts, decided that the winds were within safe speeds to fly the balloons.
Under current guidelines, the giant balloons are grounded when winds reach 23 miles per hour or gust stronger than 34 miles per hour. The big balloons include Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo and Mr. Potato Head.
"This is wonderful. It's part of New York," 85-year-old Ron Kahn said Thursday, clicking his camera while perching on a ladder with fellow Manhattanite Charlotte Horowitz.
Sayra Hernandez watched from a side street with her son, Lucas, 4, sitting on her shoulders.
"It seems better on TV, maybe more glamorous, not this hectic," said Hernandez, 30, of Manhattan. "But the smile on my kid's face is priceless."
There was a slight incident at the Macy's parade, however. Two spectators were slightly injured when what's believed to be an M&M balloon hit a lamp post and snapped the light off. The accident occurred at 11:30 a.m. at West 43rd Street and Seventh Avenue.
It was the first appearance in the parade for the M&M's balloon, which is 40 feet long, 30.5 feet wide and 50.5 feet tall. With 48 balloon handlers coaxing the faux chocolate candies from the Upper West Side to Herald Square, the M&Ms weigh 515 pounds and are filled with 13,335 cubic feet of helium.
Many Americans spend Thanksgiving day feasting on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie, then — submitting to the feeling of fatigue and brought on by the bird's tryptophan — spend several hours on the couch watching football.
President Bush's Thanksgiving Day agenda was a lot like that of most Americans, and it included a possible nap in front of the Dallas-Denver football game.
Bush and his wife, Laura, are spending six days at their Texas ranch. Twin daughters Barbara and Jenna — who are celebrating their 24th birthday Friday — rode with them Tuesday on Air Force One.
Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, were also on the guest list for Thursday's dinner, along with Laura Bush's mother, Jenna Welch.
But not everyone had the privilege of getting to their holiday destination on Air Force One; many had to wait in long lines to get on planes, trains, and anywhere in their automobiles.
"It's like a hurricane," said Martha Bittencourt, 54, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, describing the Miami airport as she waited for a flight to visit friends in Tennessee.
People who were accustomed to the Miami airport, however, said it wasn't bad. The holiday rush also started out more smoothly than expected at many airports, including Boston, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The Air Transport Association predicted 21.7 million people would fly globally on U.S. airlines from Nov. 19 to Nov. 29, slightly more than last year's record number.
AAA said more than 37 million people would travel at least 50 miles from home during the long holiday weekend, and that about 31 million of them would travel by car. The association, citing a telephone survey, said the number of Thanksgiving travelers would be up 0.8 percent from last year.
It helped that gasoline prices in many areas had dropped to about what motorists were paying before Hurricane Katrina hit.
Wanzetta Dan said that after staying home for a month to save on gas money, she was glad to see lower prices along Interstate 35 as she began driving from Dallas to her mother's home in Oklahoma.
"That put a smile on my face," Dan said. "It's going to be better, because now the money I was going to be spending on gas, I can spend on gifts."
Pam Grey, 52, of West Hollywood, opted for the train instead of her car to travel.
"The car is taking a little rest," Grey said. "I really don't want to drive on the highway right now."
Snowy and icy weather meant drivers in the Great Lakes area and northern New England had to be especially careful; hundreds of accidents were reported from Minnesota to Indiana to Maine. A winter storm warning in parts of Michigan forecast up to a foot of lake-effect snow and winds of more than 35 mph.
"It doesn't matter if you have a half-inch of snow, people can slide on it, the first snow of the year," said forecaster Bill Simpson in Taunton, Mass.
The snow caused no problems at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports, which expected nearly 2 million passengers during the holiday weekend.
Fog was the culprit in Idaho, stranding travelers in Boise.
Elsewhere in the West, "it's just beautiful traveling weather," Nancy Daniels said during a break at a truck stop in Sterling, Colo., as she and her family drove to Minnesota for "a big ol' family reunion."
AccuWeather.com meteorologists are forecasting bitter, dangerous winter weather for the Great Lakes, but fair conditions for the Thanksgiving parades in NYC & Philadelphia.
According to chief meteorologist Elliot Abrams, howling northerly winds in sent the temperature in Chicago from 40 degrees at 2 a.m. CST to 22 degrees at 6 a.m. Thursday, but it felt like -3 degrees. Abrams says the heaviest snowfall so far on Turkey Day has been in Michigan, with blizzard conditions in Kalamazoo and other cities in the south and west of the state.
Heavy wind-whipped snow is also forecast for Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western and upstate New York.
Down in the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, despite being homeless and seeing his family and friends get flooded out of their neighborhoods, Frank Ray beamed as he helped carry boxes of donated food to feed his fellow storm-weary New Orleanians on Thanksgiving Day.
"It's a wonderful Thanksgiving," Ray, 43, said. "It's a new day by the grace of God."
Ray was one of several residents of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center called the Bridge House in downtown New Orleans helping to get a feast on the table. The center, which typically feeds about 500 homeless people, prepared enough meals for up to 1,000 people this Thanksgiving in hard-luck New Orleans.
"There are a lot of people out there who are feeling lonely because of the storm," said Else Pedersen-Wasson, the Bridge House's associate executive director.
In New Orleans, churches and charity organizations planned to feed thousands of people who remain in the city.
A grand feast was planned for the city's 5,000 firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel and their families. Many of the city's first-responders are housed on cruise ships.
"It's going to be an extremely difficult Thanksgiving, but everyone who made it is very thankful," said Dan King, the general manager of the Sheraton in downtown New Orleans.
FOX News' Andrew Stack and The Associated Press contributed to this report.