On Thursday, Americans flocked to the parade, crowded with football fields, and gathered more freely for a family feast, thanking the last year’s pandemic for keeping many people at home to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition again.
The festival dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, when pilgrims from Europe and Native Americans gathered to share the bounty in the fall-a celebration of goodwill before the impending genocide. Nowadays, as scattered families gather to enjoy holiday meals, the approach of long holiday weekends often triggers a frenzy of travel.
As the number of COVID-19 deaths and infections surged last year, many people shared a turkey meal through Zoom. According to data from the American Automobile Association, since vaccines have made the pandemic easier to control, it is estimated that 53.4 million people will travel on Thanksgiving, a 13% increase from 2020.
Air traffic rebounded strongly, and US officials screened 2.31 million people at travel checkpoints on Wednesday, accounting for 88% of the screenings on the same day in 2019. This is the highest number of checkpoints since the pandemic low of 87,534 people hit on April 13. In 2020, Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter.
President Joe Biden announced that the country was “returning” and called NBC TV to report on the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
“My message is that two years later, you are back. The United States is back,” Biden said before visiting the Coast Guard station in Nantucket, Massachusetts, thanking the military members stationed around the world. “There is nothing we cannot overcome.”
Despite this, 95,000 people are still infected with COVID-19 every day. According to official statistics from Reuters, more than 780,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19. But now the death toll is measured in hundreds instead of thousands every day.
Midnight after Thanksgiving also marks the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, providing a snapshot of the state of the US economy.
Retailers began to promote online holiday “transactions” as early as September this year, because the ongoing supply chain deadlock may delay imported goods. But according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, there are not many bargains.
An occasion to count one’s blessings—usually eating plenty of side dishes and desserts at a turkey dinner—Thanksgiving also encourages donations to the poor and hungry.
Like many organizations, the Los Angeles Area Food Bank provided an annual free food event this year, so that anyone in need could receive a free meal pack before the holiday.
Food bank marketing manager Victoria Lasavath (Victoria Lasavath) said the pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in Los Angeles County. She said that the organization and its partners now serve 900,000 people a day, three times the number before COVID-19.
Thanksgiving “is usually a very happy time of the year for all of us. However, for our food-insecure neighbors, it can bring different types of uncertainty,” Lasavat said.
As the hospital’s intensive care unit is no longer overcrowded, restrictions on social gatherings have been relaxed. On Thursday, in the first of three NFL games, fans packed Detroit’s Ford Stadium, restoring part of the Thanksgiving tradition. There were no fans in the stands last year.
Similarly, after last year’s event was reduced and closed to the public, the audience returned to the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.
The parade features giant helium balloons, depicting characters such as Grogu, also known as Baby Yoda from the Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian, and the Netflix series Ida Twist, the young scientist Ida among scientists.