U.S. troops in Afghanistan enjoyed feasts of turkey and stuffing Thursday on what will be the last Thanksgiving in the combat zone for many service members, while Americans at home reveled in the holiday at New York’s Macy’s parade.
Thousands of turkeys were flown by the U.S military to service members in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and West Africa, where some 2,132 troops American troops are stationed as part of the fight against Ebola, according to the U.S. Army website.
The Defense Logistics Agency, known as DLA, reports that 2,000 pounds of turkey, 300 pounds of cranberry sauce, and 500 pies were shipped to Liberia.
"Since they can't be home for the holidays, our team is dedicated to bringing the holidays to them," Anthony Amendolia, with DLA Troop Support subsistence team in Philadelphia, Pa., said of troops serving abroad. As many as 24,000 U.S. service members are currently in Afghanistan.
"Whether they're stationed on a remote base in Afghanistan, or a field hospital in West Africa, they'll be eating a traditional American Thanksgiving meal," Amendolia said.
Americans at home celebrated the holiday at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, while millions watched the enormous balloons, floats and marching bands from their televisions. Thursday's spectacle featured six new giant balloons, including Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington bear and the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger.
It was around 37 degrees with a hint of drizzle and light winds as clowns shot a burst of confetti from canisters to get the show rolling.
"This is great. It's nice to feel so festive for the holidays," said paradegoer Daryl Winchester, 17, of Queens, as she took pictures, waved and shouted encouragement to parade participants.
Steve Smith, a clown of 12 years performing in the parade, said he loves to make children happy.
"The kids, they are the ones who make the parade," he said.
Shortly before the parade began, authorities arrested 6 people for allegedly planning to disrupt the festivities in retaliation to the Ferguson case. The group allegedly threw an object from a building near the parade route in protest over a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the August shooting death of an 18-year-old black man in Ferguson.
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."
A major snowstorm, meanwhile, pummeled parts of the Northeast a day earlier, causing mass travel delays and power outages in some regions, like New England, where more than 200,000 customers were without power in New Hampshire and more than 100,000 were without electricity in Maine.
The outages on Thursday were particularly bad in northern New England, where more than 200,000 customers were without power in New Hampshire and more than 100,000 were without electricity in Maine.
In Vermont, Mike Mrowicki was in the middle of baking squash and making apple-cranberry crisp Wednesday night when the lights flickered off. Mrowicki said they'll improvise on their meal for 10 people.
"We've got a gas stove, and we've got a woodstove we heat with," explained Mrowicki, a state representative from Putney. "We've got plenty of lanterns and candles."
The rain and snow that fell Wednesday made getting around on one of the busiest travel days of the year a chaotic experience for some. The sloppy mixture grounded hundreds of flights in the Northeast.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.