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.
At the White House, President Barack Obama spent a quiet holiday with a traditional meal. Here's a look at how other Americans celebrated:
TIGHT SECURITY FOR SNOOPY AND SPONGEBOB
Spectators at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York noted a stepped-up police presence, with officers perched on buildings like Radio City Music Hall and watching from helicopters hovering overhead.
"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 group 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.
Pamela and Tom Popp of Ridgefield, New Jersey, said they've come to the parade every year for at least 20 years.
"It's just a very special part of our holiday," Pamela Popp said. "We're very proud of New York City and this wonderful tradition."
Her husband noted the right security. "I see the cops on top of Radio City," Tom Popp said. "Never saw that before."
PARADE RETURNS IN ST. LOUIS
In St. Louis, a modest-sized 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.
CHICAGO PROTESTERS PAUSE
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.
AT THE WHITE HOUSE, KALE TWO WAYS
Obama says Thanksgiving is a day for food, football and hoping "the turkey didn't turn out too dry."
Even if the White House's thyme-roasted bird didn't turn out to be the moistest, the first family's menu boasted more than enough other choices to fill the stomach.
There was honey-baked ham with apricot-mustard glaze, and prime rib and creamed horseradish, according to the White House. And two kinds of stuffing: cornbread with chorizo and "roasted peppers oyster."
As for the veggies, the Obamas could enjoy some braised winter greens — collards, kale, and turnip greens — in addition to kale Caesar salad. Green bean casserole, too.
Plus, the macaroni and cheese, sweet potato gratin and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes
As for dessert, it seemed Pie Day came early: banana cream, coconut cream, pumpkin, apple, pecan and cherry.
A PARADE TRADITION IN DETROIT
For Arthur Galea, getting to Detroit on Thanksgiving for the city's annual parade has been a 65-year tradition.
He has missed only three over that time, Galea told the Detroit Free Press from the parade route.
"I sleep overnight here," said Galea, 90, of West Branch. "We all have Thanksgiving dinner here."
The family was among tens of thousands of spectators who lined Woodward Avenue for America's Thanksgiving Parade.
The lineup included 180 clowns, 150 papier-mache Big Heads, 25 floats and 13 marching bands. Actor Tim Allen served as grand marshal.
Retailers that started opening on Thanksgiving in recent years have settled into times that don't interfere with the turkey feast.
Most of the more than a dozen major retailers like Macy's, Target and Kohl's are sticking with their 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. openings. One big exception: J.C. Penney, which is opening two hours earlier at 3 p.m. Staples has reversed course and will close on the holiday. And sporting goods chain REI, which was always closed on Thanksgiving, is bowing out of Black Friday, too.