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What do I need to know before I go? If I were to participate must I be of Scottish heritage?   What is the significance and importance of the Scottish Christmas Walk? Do clans have a real rivalry? What is the significance of the tartan?

Want to celebrate Alexandria’s biggest holiday weekend but don’t know where to start? Dinna fash yersel! (That’s Scottish for don’t worry.) Sure, there are more than a dozen holiday events in Alexandria December 4th through the 6th, but the number one must-see is the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. On December 5 at 11 a.m., Old Town Alexandria will welcome more than 20,000 parade-goers with the bellow of bagpipes and the beat of drums as over a hundred marching units—including Scottish clans, dancers, dignitaries, Scottie dogs and more—head to Market Square to salute our bonny town’s rich Scottish heritage.

Many different people march in the parade—including a pair from the North Pole—but the ones you see in Scottish dress have a special connection to Scotland, and to Alexandria. Many are members of the Saint Andrew’s Society, which originated in Alexandria in the late 1700s.   You don’t have to be of Scottish ancestry to go the Scottish Christmas Walk or shop in Old Town.   It’s a grand time for everyone.

To be a member of Saint Andrew’s, you must have “one foot in Scotland,” in other words, confirmed Scottish lineage. Some members are recent immigrants to the United States who are connected to the British Embassy (since Scotland is part of the United Kingdom). Others have Scottish ancestry as close as two or three generations back.

Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk is the summit of Scottish activity in the region for the year, “It’s like a giant family picnic.” In the parade, Scottish immigrants and descendants march to the tune of their cultural and genealogical heritage. It’s a way to feel connected with a faraway home and with the ancestors some clan members never got to meet.

The parade is also a chance to give back: proceeds from participation fees benefit the Campagna Center, Alexandria’s leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational and social development programs for children, teens, and adults.

For several reasons, Alexandria is the perfect place for the Scottish Walk. First, Alexandria is steeped in Scottish history—in 1749 it was officially established by Scottish merchants and named after John Alexander. Those merchants were also members of the Saint Andrew’s Society in its early days. (One of them, William Hunter, is buried behind the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, and before each parade members place a wreath on his grave.)

But Alexandria has an even closer connection to Scotland—we have little pieces of it in our streets!  During the 18th century, when Alexandria was a major seaport, Scottish merchants sailed to the city with stone in the bellies of their boats for ballast. Upon arrival, the ships dumped the stones in the streets to open up their vessel for goods. Legend has it that Old Town’s cobblestone streets still contain ballast from those Scottish ships. For many, walking the streets of Old Town is one way to revisit your ancestral homeland.

Centuries ago in feudal Scotland, the weave or pattern of a tartan (plaid) revealed who your family was, the person you were married to or who you were subservient to. Today things are a little different, but the main idea is the same: your tartan is your way to celebrate your family’s heritage.

 Look closely during the parade, and you’ll see that many of the men clad in Scottish regalia carry small, hairy bags around their waists, almost like a furry fanny pack. Nope, this isn’t the latest trend in men’s wear (although maybe it should be), but those furry bags actually serve a very practical purpose. Called sporrans, the purse worn around the waist came about because traditionally, kilts do not have pockets. So what might you find inside those woolly wallets? Most likely money, credit cards and cell phones.

Traditionally, Scotsmen wore nothing under the kilt, apart from long shirts tied in a knot between their legs. So if a wearer keeps tradition, no boxers or briefs are worn under the kilt so it’s safe to leave it at that.

You’ll see many dogs in the parade who proudly march in honor of their Scottish ancestors, including a host of Scottie dogs. But you’ll also spy dogs in the parade who are just happy to support a good cause—and who’s complaining about that?

There are quite a few clans who march in the parade who share longstanding rivalries.  The rivalry is friendly and a source of many jokes, but when Scots get together—and have absorbed a couple glasses of Scotch—the rivalry never fails to come up. In short “We forgive, but we remember.”

Some Other Christmas Walk Events

All this Scottish history got you thirsty for a wee dram? Book your ticket to the Campagna Center’s Taste of Scotland event, when you can sample varieties of Scotches and other Scottish spirits and lift a glass to our city’s founding fathers.

Campagna Center – You know what they say: Put a wreath on it! But seriously, there’s no better way to catch the holiday spirit than with fresh heather bundles, wreaths, or garlands in your home or office.

If you want to know the real meaning of “decked out,” take a stroll through some of Old Town Alexandria’s historic homes in all their holiday splendor for some serious decoration inspiration.

The Art League helps kick off the holiday season with an annual art celebration and open house featuring exhibits, live music, artist demonstrations, and refreshments, as well as a weekend-long ceramics and jewelry sale of handmade wares by Art League students and associates.

At sundown on the day of the Scottish Christmas Walk parade, Alexandria’s harbor lights up as dozens of illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront, led by Alexandria’s fireboat The Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John Glenn. DC media personality Tommy McFly of 94.7 Fresh FM will be the parade announcer.  At the marina before and after the parade, stop in to the Holiday Festival: Take a Walk in the Woods at the Torpedo Factory Art Center  between 4 and 9 p.m. to enjoy performances by the Alexandria Harmonizers plus gift shopping in open artist studios.

Note to Santa: I want a piece of local art this Christmas, and the Torpedo Factory Open House is the perfect place to find it. With live music and special activities, the Torpedo Factory is also the perfect place to pop in on your way to or from the Boat Parade of Lights! And the Torpedo Factory is the perfect place to find a unique work of art and/or jewelry and purchase it directly from the artist. You also may have the opportunity to see the artist at work (making the purchase all the more special).

Kathy Kiefer




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How does thanksgiving translate from colonial times to present day?

Many Americans erroneously assume that our nation has been celebrating Thanksgiving since the Mayflower Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To begin with, this was not even the first Thanksgiving celebrated in this country. An earlier thanksgiving was offered in prayer alone by members of the Berkeley plantation, an extension of the original Jamestown settlement, near present-day Charles City, Virginia, on December 4, 1619.    Each year visitors are invited to join in the festivities at the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival hosted by Berkley Plantation, site of the very first Thanksgiving in 1619. Enjoy this day dedicated to history and food, and including house tours of the beloved 1726 Berkeley Plantation manor house. I remember visiting Berkley one year with my mom and my brother to do just that. I found it to be an enjoyable day and time and quite memorable.   I highly recommend it.

Berkeley’s history begins in 1619 when settlers observed the first official Thanksgiving in America. The original 1726 Georgian mansion is the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Virginia. The estate is also the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, and ancestral home of his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president. During the Civil War, Berkeley was occupied by General George McClellan’s Union troops. While at Berkeley, General Daniel Butterfield composed the familiar tune “Taps”, first played by his bugler, O.W. Norton. Enthusiastic guides in period costumes conduct tours of the mansion daily. The mansion is furnished with a magnificent collection of 18th century antiques and artifacts. Grounds tours are self-guided and include five terraces of boxwood and flowering gardens leading to the James River, monuments to the First Thanksgiving and to Taps, and the Harrison family graveyard. The gardens provide an elegant setting for weddings and private events. The first Sunday in November, Berkeley celebrates the historic 1619 landing with the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival. In December, the plantation is decorated with traditional holiday decorations of fresh greenery and natural arrangements from Berkeley’s gardens. Berkley bears the designation of being both a Virginia and National Historic Landmark.

The Mayflower landed on December 11, 1620. The first winter was devastating and nearly half of the 102 passengers who had sailed from Plymouth, England died before spring. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. This “first” Thanksgiving was celebrated over a period of three days by the Pilgrims and neighboring Wampanoag Indians who supplied much of the food – venison, waterfowl, dried berries, shellfish and cornbread. Governor William Bradford sent “four men fowling” after wild ducks and geese. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. The term “turkey” was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.

This was the only Thanksgiving feast the Pilgrims ever celebrated. In fact, it wasn’t until June of 1676 that another Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed.

It is believed that the Pilgrim Colonists and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated the very first Thanksgiving feast after their first harvest in 1621 in Plymouth, MA. The harvest festival was religious in nature and took place outdoors, where hundreds of people gathered to partake in the festivities. Food was plentiful for this occasion and the spirit of thankfulness prevailed over the three-day celebration.

Historians believe that on that Thanksgiving day almost 400 years ago the menu consisted of venison – or deer meat – roasted (not stuffed) turkey, wild fowl including ducks, geese, and even swans, fish, lobsters, pumpkin in some form, squash, beans, dried fruits, some sort of cranberry sauce, and dried Indian maize or corn. The sugar supply brought over on the Mayflower from England was nearly exhausted by the time of the first Thanksgiving, so it is widely surmised that wheat pudding may have been one of the only sweet dishes served.

The Pilgrims used many spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit in the meat sauces they prepared. The best way to cook things in the 17th century was to roast them. Many of the meats were put on a spit and turned over a fire for up to six hours at a time to ensure that the meat was evenly cooked. They didn’t have ovens so pies and cakes and breads most likely never made it to that first Thanksgiving dinner table in Plymouth.

Today we enjoy delicious meals served in a warm home where it’s quite possible a football game can be heard from a nearby television set. At the dining room table many Americans may enjoy herb-roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, candied yams, almond green beans, cranberry-orange relish, turnip, popovers with butter, pumpkin pie, mince pie, apple pie, and vanilla ice cream, even tofu-turkey and similar menu items for those that follow vegan or vegetarian diets.

Another location I highly recommend any time of the year, but especially at Thanksgiving would be Colonial Williamsburg.  They mix traditional colonial with yet a modern feel on things down to the last detail. It is an experience one should not miss.  I remember when I was around 10 years old; my family came done on Thanksgiving vacation, and what a treat was in store for us.   Spending time exploring the colonial capital of the United States and having a special thanksgiving dinner at the Williamsburg Inn was such a special treat and a wonderful memory for me.

Sunrise and fresh-baked bread warm up a cool, crisp day at Colonial Williamsburg. The alluring mix tempts the morning’s first visitors to follow the costumed bakers to the Raleigh Tavern on Duke of Gloucester Street (shortened to “Dog” Street by locals). There you’ll find baskets filled with goodness. You couldn’t ask for a more appetizing start to celebrating Thanksgiving’s bounty at Colonial Williamsburg.

All of the taverns and inns offer superb holiday fare, costumed servers, roving minstrels, authentic furnishings, and a pleasant atmosphere. Our favorite meal has to be the sumptuous offering for Thanksgiving dinner at King’s Arms Tavern. Start with cream of Virginia peanut soup, so rich, flavorful, and filling that they could serve it as the main course. But then there would be no room for the roasted young turkey served with giblet gravy, cornbread dressing, Carolina candied yams, and cranberry chutney.

Be sure to visit the shops, cottages, and other sites in the historic district. If you haven’t been here in years (or ever), seeing Colonial Williamsburg this month makes good sense too.

Gone are the steamy summer lines waiting to get in all the shops, craft houses, and taverns. You’ll also get the jump on the Christmas season crowds coming to shop in December. There seem to be just enough visitors to make it sociable. Don’t be surprised if you’re the only one in front of the warm fire at the cobbler’s shop, usually one of the most popular places. That’s another reason why Thanksgiving is such a great time to visit.

Although there are many differences between the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and the holiday we celebrate today, the one tradition that remains constant (despite some commercialization) is the celebration of being thankful.

However we choose to celebrate our national holiday today, we should remember ALL the first Thanksgivings and proclamations, as well as our American ancestors, whether native born, free emigrant, slave or indentured servant. We should never forget the struggles they all endured to create this nation from which our generation and our children’s will continue to greatly benefit.

Kathy Kiefer


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I read this article of the italian Blogger, Alessandro Sicuro, he’s always very careful to recognizing the talents creativity of Made in Italy and beyond. I immediately wanted posted in my blog this important report, because I believe that, this brand and its line will have ‘future.



Schermata 2015-11-19 alle 22.23.15As a lover of Italian creativity and ingenuity, I am always on the lookout for companies to discover new ideas and products.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Creative Lab of a young Tuscan Company Marka™ Ltd, for their collection of accessories and unique jewelry, bracelets and chains for pants, designed and styled very attractively. Silver, precious stones such as amethyst, tiger eye, silver bracelets, leather, python, set in magnificent frames made in the urban Hipster style.


Many times companies write to me for a technical opinion and input on their creations. I am generally happy to oblique.

One of the most interesting ideas that I have become aware of lately, is a new brand with a very unique style.  How did the idea begin? The story is simple, and the entrepreneurs are four friends, who met over dinner and decided to give birth to a new line of products, involving the creation of fashion accessories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGiven the fact that the four friends have a plethora of experience in the field of industrial creativity for many years, although each in different sectors. For them, this environment for them is so challenging, yet complicated and fascinating at the same time, allowing him to obtain several successes to the point of deciding to embark on this new creative venture with the creation of the brand 43°11° © –

go to the web site: www.4311.itOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I readily admit that this idea intrigued me from the very beginning, their enthusiasm has spread and my talent scouting staff, “always lurking like a sentinel,”  I immediately came to understand that I was in the right place, at the right time. Then moving from words to deeds, I came to see the creations of the collection 43°11°©, led by creative director Andrea Balleri, to see for myself this team full of energy and passion for innovation, there’s really an idea worth telling and bringing forward.

Schermata 2015-11-19 alle 22.46.49Ing. Andrea Balleri creative director 43°11°©

Upon arriving at the company and opening the caskets of the collection, I noticed three elements that strike me immediately in the products. The first is the lightness of the product, a fact that I always find very valuable when you have to wear something. Despite the closure of the bracelets and chains, they are both reliable and lightweight, as well for pendants, and chains that are set with semiprecious stones.

 ⬇︎ bracelets


The second element that struck me is the exquisite design and detail, impact, quality of micro-fusion of silver, an aesthetic and functional mix I found really fascinating.

 ⬇ bracelets ︎

The third element that struck me is the price: finding to be an excellent compromise between quality and cost. Bearing in mind that manufacturing procedures faithfully respect the matching processing parameters in compliance with the safety standards.

⬇ pants/trouser chains ︎

The collection is ready and the holders Marka Ltd say, which is also in high demand by social media and Internet.


Marka srl. Sede legale: Ripa Castel Traetti, 1. 51100 PT (Italy)
Sede operativa: Via Prov. Francesca Sud 143 145, 56029 Santa croce sull’Arno PI.
P.iva 01843420470  email:  info@4311.it



Fall Wine Festivals In the United States

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Fall Wine Festivals In the United States


Annual wine festivals celebrate viticulture and usually occur after the harvest of the grapes which, in the northern hemisphere, generally falls at the end of September and runs until well into October or later. They are common in most wine regions around the world and are to be considered in the tradition of other harvest festivals. I have also shared several of the festivals, there are many fall festivals and harvest events all around the country. There is something to please everyone.

The Egyptian god Osiris was dedicated to wine, but the oldest historically documented wine festivals can be traced back to the Greek celebrations for their wine god Dionvsos. The typical ingredients of a wine festival include wine drinking, grape pressing, regional foods, music and, in many areas, religious ritual.   The grape, and the extraction of its juice to produce wine, is more than a flavorsome food or drink. Both grapes and wine have immense cultural significance in many cultures and often religious significance too.

Autumn is the ultimate time of year for food festivals, and with the changing of the seasons on the horizon, it’s time to start planning trips that allow you taste the best the country’s various regions have to offer. Harvest season in New England and California’s wine country means festivals that celebrate local produce, while other events around the country feature the best beer, barbecue, oysters, and more.

As we are enjoying fall, wineries in the Northern Hemisphere are hard at work harvesting their grapes from the vines. So you’ll find that September and October make a great time to stop at a vineyard and enjoy a wine tasting.   Another way to sample the wine from their vineyards is at a fall wine festival. Local wineries will offer samples of their wines for guests to try. Wine festivals are popular because they are an easy way to try a large number of different grapes, vintages, and wineries. At the end of the event, buy a couple bottles of your favorite wines and enjoy them later at home or at a BYOB. There’s also food and entertainment at the festival to make sure that everyone has a good time.

Harvest is a vintner’s celebration of the culmination of a year’s hard work. It marks the transition period in the winemaking cycle from vineyard to cellar. In physical terms, it is the process of picking ripe grapes from the vine. I am sharing some that are annual events in different areas, please realize this is but a small sample, and there are a wide variety around the country.

Long Island Wine Country. com cordially invites you to take part in their once-a-year activity by joining their annual Harvest Fest “Day in the Vineyard”.   This full day event will take place at Laurel Lake Vineyards, in the quaint hamlet of Laurel, on the North Fork of Long Island. Laurel Lake Vineyards is a modern vineyard & winery focusing on producing premium quality estate wines. The winery building features a massive elevated wrap around deck that offers a picture perfect view of the vineyard below (and at other vineyards on the east end of the island).

Harvest Fest is a full day, fun-filled educational event. Attendees will gain a new appreciation for how wine gets into the bottle. Clip the vines, pick the grapes, and have the opportunity to custom blend your own bottle of wine! “attitude-free” wine!

Harvest Fest includes: (1) Food & Wine paring demonstration; (2) Welcome toast with sparkling wine; (3) Winemaking overview and presentation; (4) Picking grapes in the vineyard; (5) Live demonstration of the crush & winemaking process; (6) VIP Tour of the wine cellar; (7) VIP Barrel Tasting of pre-release vintages; (8) Delicious Vineyard Lunch; (9) Live Music; (10) “Barrel Rolling Contest” with valuable prize; (11) Tasting of artisan cheese & Ice wine; and (12) Optional-Blend your own bottle of wine of “Meritage” style red wine with the winemaker.    Plus so much more.     Harvest Fest is just one of many fall harvest related festivals taking place on the east end of Long Island at various vineyards. They are not to be missed.

Founded in October 1982, the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado is a celebration of the best brews produced around the country, with nearly 700 breweries represented at last year’s festival. When you’ve had your fill of beer, sample some of the artisanal cheeses, hosted by the American Cheese Society, or check out the Farm to Table Pavilion, featuring the best chefs working in the U.S.

The Annual Lynchburg Beer and Wine Festival takes place in Lynchburg, Virginia at the Lynchburg City Stadium on the third weekend of September.  Over 16 area wineries are on hand with samples of their finest Virginia wines.   Breweries from the state and beyond will have craft ales and lagers on tap with 76 different varieties for you to sample and buy. Artisans and crafters from around the state display their goods while area businesses are represented to feature their newest line of products.

Food vendors galore line the perimeter of the festival park with barbecue, ribs, wings and crab cakes.  You will also find the all American favorites of hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, ribbon fries and funnel cakes.  This year they have added Mediterranean, Greek and Italian cuisine.  There will be something to tempt every pallet. A festival isn’t a festival without the finest of entertainment. Their goal is to bring in local acts as well as featured bands from out of the area that will offer a different variety of music while still playing the favorite sing-a-long tunes that everyone loves.

Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival – Paw Paw, MI – (early September)
Wine tours, wine tasting, 4 stages of musical entertainment, grape stomp, carnival rides, car show, sports activities, arts & crafts show and more.

Dripping with Taste Wine & Food Festival – Dripping Springs, TX (mid-September).   Enjoy live music on stage with top talent including the Billy Garza Band.  View chef and drink demonstrations, grape stomping, a cigar booth, and a host of wineries, breweries, and family activities.

Virginia Wine Festival – The Plains, VA – Annual September event held at Great Meadows.

GrapeFest – Grapevine, TX – Mid-September Annual event. The Grapevine Wine Festival includes a People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic with 100+ wine samples from 40+ Texas wineries so that guests can choose their favorite. The Grape Stomp competition is very popular.

Lynchburg Beer & Wine Festival – Lynchburg, VA – Mid-September
Voted one of the Best Beer and Wind Festivals by Lynchburg Living Magazine. Over 5,000 guests attend the event at Lynchburg City Stadium. More than 16 wine vendors provide samples and there are nearly 100 craft ales and lagers on tap.

Taste of Freedom Wine Festival – Montpelier, VA – (mid-September) Enjoy Constitution Day at James Madison’s Montpelier. Take the 11 mile round-trip Liberty Ride. Breweries and wineries, arts & crafts, food vendors, live music, children’s entertainment and more.

Stratford Hall Wine and Oyster Festival – Stratford, VA – (mid-September) Sample Chesapeake Bay seafood recipes, have a beer, view craftsmen and ride the Bay Transit Trolleys.  Experience colonial chocolate making, kid’s rides, and much more.

Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival – Bryan, TX – (late September)  Downtown Bryan hosts this annual festival featuring a steak cook-off, craft beer, artist showcases, vendors, food, and Texas wineries.

Fredericksburg Area Wine Festival – Fredericksburg, VA – (early October)
Ten wineries offer samples and the opportunity to purchase more than 100 varieties of wine from Virginia, Beer garden hosted by the All-American Girls. Food vendors, live music, arts & crafts and more.

Chesapeake Virginia Wine Festival – Chesapeake, VA – (early October)   Back for another year is this wine tasting event from over twenty premier Virginia Wineries.  All activities are at the Chesapeake City Park.

Virginia Wine & Garlic Festival – Amherst, VA – (early October) “Always a Stinkin’ Good Time”.  This popular event is held at Rebec Vineyards, 2229 N. Amherst Hwy, Amherst.  It features live music, arts, crafts, tastings, and over 150 arts and craft vendors.  This is Virginia’s largest agricultural festival.

Wine & Unwind Wine Festival – Salem, VA – (October)   Sample wines, taste food, dance to good music and enjoy the arts and crafts.  Held annually at the Salem Civic Center.

Kathy Kiefer



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The most popular holiday parade in America, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade NY has been a Big Apple tradition since 1924. Attracting more than 3.5 million people to the streets of New York City each year, as well 50 million TV viewers nationwide, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become so synonymous with Thanksgiving tradition in NYC that it’s often shortened to “The Macy’s Day Parade.” Like any great tradition in NYC, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan features a long and storied history.

santaThe first-ever Macy’s Day Parade actually took place on Christmas of 1924. Macy’s employees dressed as clowns, cowboys, and other fun costumes, and traveled with Central Park zoo animals and creative floats a lengthy six miles from Herald Square to Harlem in Manhattan. The parade was meant to draw attention to the Macy’s store in NYC, and the gimmick worked – more than 250,000 people attended the inaugural Macy’s Day Parade. It was decided that this NYC parade would become an annual NY event in Manhattan.     In the 1920s, many of Macy’s department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual parade presented by the U.S.-based department store chain Macy*s, the tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States with America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit (with both parades being four years younger than the Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia). The three-hour Macy’s event is held in New York City starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thanksgiving Day, and has been televised nationally on NBC since 1952.

In 1924, the annual Thanksgiving parade started by Lois Bamberger in Newark, New Jersey at the Bamberger’s store was transferred to New York City by Macy’s. In New York, the employees marched to Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes. There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. At this first parade, however, the Jolly Old Elf was enthroned on the Macy’s balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was then “crowned” “King of the Kiddies.” With an audience of over 250,000 people, the parade was such a success that Macy’s declared it would become an annual event.

At the finale of the 1928 parade, the balloons were released into the sky, where they unexpectedly burst. The following year, they

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28:  (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was shot with a fisheye lens) Snoopy makes his way down Avenue of the Americas during the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 28: (EDITOR’S NOTE: Image was shot with a fisheye lens) Snoopy makes his way down Avenue of the Americas during the 87th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

were redesigned with safety valves to allow them to float for a few days. Address labels were sewn into them, so that whoever found and mailed back the discarded balloon received a gift from Macy’s. Through the 1930s, the Parade continued to grow, with crowds of over one million people lining the parade route in 1933. The first Mickey Mouse balloon entered the parade in 1934. The annual festivities were broadcast on local radio stations in New York City from 1932 to 1941, and resumed in 1945, running through 1951.   The parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 as a result of World War II, owing to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort. The parade resumed in 1945 using the route that it followed until 2008. The parade became known nationwide after being prominently featured in the 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street, which included footage of the 1946 festivities. The event was first broadcast on network television in 1948. By this point the event, and Macy’s sponsorship of it, were sufficiently well-known to give rise to the colloquialism “Macy’s Day Parade”.

The classic “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” logo was, with one exception, last used in 2005. For 2006, a special variant of the logo was used. Every year since then, a new logo has been used for each parade. The logos however are seen rarely, if at all, on television as NBC has used its own logo with the word “Macy’s” in a script typeface and “Thanksgiving Day Parade” in a bold font. The logos are assumed to be for use by Macy’s only, such as on the Grandstand tickets and the ID badges worn by parade staff. The Jackets worn by parade staff still bear the original classic parade logo, this being the only place where that logo can be found.

New safety measures were incorporated in 2006 to prevent accidents and balloon-related injuries. One measure taken was the installation of wind measurement devices to alert parade organizers to any unsafe conditions that could cause the balloons to behave erratically. In addition, parade officials implemented a measure to keep the balloons closer to the ground during windy conditions. If wind speeds are forecast to be higher than 34 miles per hour (55 km/h), all balloons are removed from the parade.

2387747600000578-2850819-image-128_1417030947914The balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade come in three varieties. The first and oldest is the novelty balloon class, consisting of smaller balloons, some of which fit on the heads of the performers; the largest of the novelty balloons typically require approximately 30 handlers. The second, and most famous, is the full-size balloon class, primarily consisting of licensed pop-culture characters; each of these is handled by exactly 90 people. The third and is the “Blue Sky Gallery,” a program that ran from 2005 to 2012 and transformed the works of contemporary artists into full-size balloons.   There are also Falloons which is a combination of a balloon and a float and created exclusively by Macy’s.

In 1927, Felix the Cat became the first giant balloon to ever take part in the Macy’s Day Parade. In 1928, Felix was inflated with helium, and without a plan to deflate this massive balloon, NYC parade organizers simply let Felix fly off into the sky. Unfortunately, he popped soon thereafter.   The Parade continued to let the balloons fly off in subsequent years, only these balloons would have a return address written on them, and whoever found the balloon could return the balloon for a prize from Macy’s. However, the results of this experiment weren’t exactly successful.

Despite the Great Depression, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade continued to grow through the 1930’s. The first national radio broadcast of the Macy’s Parade Thanksgiving took place in 1932. Two years later, Disney got in on the giant balloon fun, introducing the Mickey Mouse balloon in 1934. By then, more than one million people were attending this popular parade in NYC, and those fortunate enough to own a TV could see the broadcast on NBC starting in 1939.

Today, more than 8,000 people participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade each year, and it takes another 4,000 dedicated volunteers to put together this NYC Thanksgiving celebration. Both NBC and CBS broadcast the New York City parade nationwide, and this NYC event still attracts high-profile musicians and the most talented Broadway performers.

In addition to the well-known balloons and floats, the Parade also features live music and other performances. College and high school marching bands from across the country participate in the parade, and the television broadcasts feature performances by established and up-and-coming singers and bands. The Radio City Rockettes are a classic performance as well (having performed annually since 1957 as the last of the pre-parade acts to perform), as are cheerleaders and dancers chosen by the National Cheerleaders Association from various high schools across the country. The parade concludes with the arrival of Santa Claus to ring in the Christmas and holiday season.

Only the NBC telecast is from in front of the flagship Macy’s store on Broadway/Herald Square and 34th Street, the marching bands perform live music. Most “live” performances by musicals and individual artists lip sync to the studio, soundtrack or cast recordings of their songs, due to the technical difficulties of attempting to sing into a wireless microphone while in a moving vehicle (performers typically perform on the floats themselves); the NBC-flagged microphones used by performers on floats are almost always non-functioning props. Live performances with no use of recorded vocals, are very rare in the parade.

More than 44 million people watch the parade on television on an annual basis. It was first televised locally in New York City in1385423706000-parade 1939 as an experimental broadcast. No television stations broadcast the parade in 1940 or 1941, but when the parade returned in 1945 after the wartime suspension, local broadcasts also resumed. The parade began its network television appearances on CBS in 1948, the year that regular television network programming began. NBC has been the official broadcaster of the event since 1952, though CBS (which has a studio in Times Square) also carries unauthorized coverage under the title The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS. Since the parade takes place in public, the parade committee can endorse an official broadcaster, but they cannot award exclusive rights as other events (such as sporting events, which take place inside restricted-access stadiums) have the authority to do. The rerouting of the parade that was implemented for the 2012 event moved the parade out of the view of CBS’s cameras and thus made it significantly more difficult for the network to cover the parade; CBS nevertheless continues to cover the parade to the same extent as in previous years.

At first, the telecasts were only an hour long. In 1961, the telecast expanded to two hours, and was then expanded to 90 minutes beginning in 1962, before reverting to a two-hour telecast in 1965; all three hours of the parade were televised by 1969. The event began to be broadcast in color in 1960. NBC airs the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live in the Eastern Time Zone, but tape delays the telecast elsewhere in the continental U.S. and territories in the same 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. timeslot across its owned and operated and affiliated stations. The musical director for the television coverage is veteran composer/arranger Milton DeLugg.

In the 1930s, the balloons were inflated in the area of 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue near St. John the Divine Cathedra. The balloons have always been inflated the evening prior to the parade and routinely draws a large crowd to watch the balloons come to life. The parade proceeded South on Amsterdam Avenue to 106th Street and turned east. At Columbus Avenue, the balloons had to be lowered to go under the Ninth Avenue El. Past the El tracks, the parade proceeded through 106th Street to Central Park West and turned south to terminate at Macy’s Department Store.

A new route was established for the 2009 parade. From 77th Street and Central Park West, the route went south along Central Park to Columbus Circle, then east along Central Park South. The parade would then make a right turn at 7th Avenue and go south to Times Square. At 42nd Street, the parade turned left and went east, then at 6th Avenue turned right again at Bryant Park. Heading south on 6th Avenue, the parade turned right at 34th Street (at Herald Square) and proceeded west to the terminating point at 7th Avenue where the floats are taken down.   The City of New York said that the new route would provide more space for the parade and more viewing space for spectators. Another reason for implementing the route change is the city’s plan to turn Broadway into a pedestrian-only zone at Times Square. I always remember when my family went into the City to watch the parade; we always found a good spot along the parade route.   When I lived in Manhattan, I found an excellent vantage point at the corner of Herald Square and 34th Street to view the parade, which also turned out to be an excellent spot for taking pictures of the parade. Also along the parade route, there are many people who get to watch the parade from the comfort of their apartments or offices.

Kathy Kiefer


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Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in the month of November, every year, is essentially a harvest festival. It is a time characterized with lot of fun and frolic, gifting, family feasting, community praying. It is also a time to show your gratitude and respect to your elders, friends, your siblings and also your colleagues. Popular gifts include thanksgiving flowers, jewelry, baked cookie hampers, chocolate gift baskets, candy-wreaths, wine and much more.

Thanksgiving is most jubilated in the countries of America and Canada. These countries witness a lot of fervor and zeal among its residents. It is a time to thank not only God for a bountiful harvest, but also your fellow countrymen and women for their continuous support and care.

It is also celebrated in parts of Asia, Africa under different names. The theme behind all the celebrations is uniform- being grateful to Lord Almighty and your fellow men.

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with lot of fervor and merry-making in America. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in the month of November every year, it is a time for communal thanksgiving, feeling gratitude, lavish feasts. It is a time to remember the pilgrims. The original pilgrims celebrated the autumn harvest with a feast of thanks. The feast popularly known as the ‘First Thanksgiving Day Feast’ was held as a gesture of thanks to almighty God. It was celebrated in the year 1621. After the United States gained independence, Congress recommended one yearly day of thanksgiving for the whole nation to celebrate.

Until recently, many people believed Thanksgiving Day to be a celebration of pilgrims, offering food to Indians. It however is a day marked as a gesture of thanks and gratitude to Lord Almighty for his blessings. It is also a celebration to mark the respect towards Indians for teaching the pilgrims how to cook. The Pilgrims could not have survived without the help of the native Indians.

Thanksgiving Day is a time of festivity, family meals and reunions in America. Carved turkeys, Pumpkin Pie, Corns, Cranberry Sauce are the traditional dishes adorning the dinner tables in almost every house. A time for feasting, Thanksgiving Day epitomizes the holiday mood of people. There are ways for people to celebrate even if they are Vegans, Vegetarians, or have other dietary restrictions.  Some families choose to serve vegetarian Thanksgiving dinners instead of a stuffed turkey. Some people eat vegetarian turkey, which is made out of tofu. Others prefer to eat squash, salads, or other fruit and vegetable dishes.

 One of the best things about Thanksgiving is spending time with family. Many people live far from family members and travel long distances by car, train, or plane to be with their loved ones. Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year!   Some that aren’t able to get to be with family or friends use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to help the less fortunate. Some people volunteer to serve food at homeless shelters on Thanksgiving Day and others donate to shelters or participate in canned food drives. For others unable to get home, many communities have a plethora of activities that they could participate in so they are not alone.

Some families have a tradition that includes breaking the turkey’s wishbone as part of their celebration. The wishbone is found attached to the breast meat in the turkey’s chest. After the meat has been removed and the wishbone has had a chance to become dry and brittle, two people each take one end of the bone, make a wish, and pull. Whoever ends up with the larger part of the bone gets their wish!

Each year at Thanksgiving, the President of the United States receives a gift of a live turkey (along with an alternate in case something happens to the official turkey). At a White House ceremony, the president traditionally “pardons” the National Thanksgiving Turkey and the alternate turkeys, allowing them to live out the rest of their lives on a farm.

In addition to the traditional football games that are televised on Thanksgiving, the most popular that is watched (and well attended) is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, from New York City.     While I was growing up there were many years that my family went into the City from Long Island and watched the parade and I went by myself when I lived in Manhattan,    This was one of our traditions and eagerly anticipated.   Yes, we still had the traditional holiday meal as well, sometimes when we were in the city we made it an entire day and had thanksgiving dinner at a nice restaurant.   Even now I look forward to watching the parade on TV, and I feel that it is still a fabulous way to ring in the holiday season.

After the feast families often do additional activities. Some like to take walks after eating such a large meal. Some people take naps. Others sit down together to play board or card games together.   In many areas around the county there are also Turkey Trots, races and walks that becoming more and more popular among many people and a good way to help   burn off some of the calories from their meal. Some participants also race in holiday themed costumes.

Thanksgiving Day is the official beginning of the Christmas season and that here in America; businesses witness a maximum sales volume the next day. The Friday after thanksgiving is famously known as ‘Black Friday’. This is so, because of the standard accounting practice of writing profits in black. The ongoing festive spirit, shopping spree, helps the shopkeepers to register maximum sales and profits. The entire atmosphere during the time is euphoric; people get in a holiday mood. It is also the perfect time to get the holiday decorations out and start decorating the home for Christmas.

One of the recent trends that I am not a fan of is some stores opening on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to boost sales and their profits. I find that it takes away from the reason and meaning of the holiday, and I have been pleased to learn that many retailers have started to change their policy of opening on Thanksgiving. I am also not a big fan of places decorating or putting out Christmas items out as early as Labor Day in September.   It is just not right.

Kathy Kiefer


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thanksgiving-day-entertaining-table-settings-table-hgtv-design-happensFall is finally here! Pumpkins fill the stores, the air is finally crisp and pumpkin baked goods are all I can think about! Everything feels festive and something about the season just makes me want to entertain.

I love throwing a fantastic holiday themed party and setting a beautiful table for friends and family to gather round.  For a fall gathering, nothing says ambiance to me like candles. They create magic like nothing else, are cheap, and are the easiest decorations!

Thanksgiving entertaining tends to lead to stress, since it’s a more labor-intensive meal than most dinners. If you plan out what you’re going to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner weeks in advance, it will help minimize any tension you might feel, since you’ll be organized well before the big holiday. Thanksgiving is a time of sharing your appreciation for your life, the blessings you receive, and the people who are a part of your life.

Thanksgiving is perhaps the most American holiday of all, a celebration of beloved foods, and customs that evoke happy memories of good times shared with family and friends.

For traditionalists, there is a classic New England Thanksgiving dinner featuring roasted turkey with pan gravy and all the trimmings, including an old-fashioned oyster stuffing, cranberry relish, and buttery mashed potatoes. A contemporary California-style holiday menu showcases a butterflied turkey and light, seasonal Mediterranean-inspired accompaniments, while an elegant southern buffet offers a glorious glazed ham, spooned bread, and collard greens.

Have a fall beverage station where several festive choices are waiting for your guests all evening.   Remember, the goal is self-Outdoor-Halloween-Decorations-4serve. Have water for tea already hot and ready in a kettle. In a crate, I would place several tea options and coffee waiting to be made. Apple cider is another big fall favorite. I like to serve it chilled in a pitcher, so that you won’t need to tend to it throughout the evening.

You don’t need to have a ton of options to make your beverage bar feel extra special. Some whipped cream, cinnamon, and cinnamon sticks for stirring are enough to make it feel “fall fancy” while not creating a full-service coffee bar for you to manage.

Because Thanksgiving entertaining often extends beyond the holiday meal, you can always plan for casual day after lunches/brunches complete with turkey sandwiches and snacks, as well as a homey weekend breakfast, with French toast, smoothies, and an irresistible Pumpkin Bread.

Before you sit-down for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (like a roasted Turkey or Prime Rib), offer your guests prepared appetizers to help stave off their appetite, and give them an opportunity to relax and mingle while the dinner is still being prepared. A few easy appetizers to serve (that are fast and easy to prepare), are hummus & pita chips, a selection of cured meats, pre-roasted canned vegetables (like bell peppers and mushrooms, in addition to what fresh vegetables can be bought at the farmers market or local farm stands). Serve the appetizers in an array of vibrant colored dishes or bowls to add visual interest to your table.

Instead of plating each meal, create a buffet table. This enables you to focus on preparing the food, while the guests have the opportunity to serve themselves the dishes and portions they desire. Since everyone has particular tastes (some crave stuffing, while others love cranberry sauce), this is a win-win for both you, as the hostess, and them. A buffet table containing an array of delectable side dishes to accompany your main course, such as sauteed seasonal vegetables, sweet potatoes, fresh cranberry sauce, herb-seasoned stuffing, and tossed autumn salad (including dark leafy greens and in-season berries) completes your Thanksgiving buffet.

Some people prefer to showcase their finest china during Thanksgiving dinner, while others view it as an opportunity to bring out their Thanksgiving themed dinnerware. With so many festive options on the market (like Turkey printed bowls, Pilgrim printed cups, Autumnal leaf printed plates), it can be fun to mix things up for this annual holiday, especially if kids will be joining you. Depending on the type of Thanksgiving entertaining you’re planning on doing (whether it’s a formal affair for sophisticated guests, or a casual get-together with easy-going families), choose your dinnerware to suit the occasion.

No matter what you decide to serve, remember to enjoy the process, relax, and focus on the meaningful purpose of Thanksgiving. Happy holidays!

Aside from the meal, a key focus for preparing for Thanksgiving entertaining should be decor.

The dinner table should be the primary focus of your Thanksgiving decor efforts, since it’s the gathering place for all your guests. Opt for an easy-to-make, but equally festive centerpiece that incorporates natural elements (like a bowl of neatly-arranged fallen leaves, twigs and branches, mini pumpkins, fresh herbs for greenery, and dried flowers). This type of centerpiece can be arranged quickly, costs pennies (especially since you can find most of these items outside), and lasts for weeks.

When it comes to seasonal decorating, the less-is-more approach works best. Opt for simple focal points that add warmth to your home, such as Thanksgiving Pilgrim Figurines, a mixture of different sized and colored pumpkins, scented candles, and autumnal floral arrangements. The last thing you want to do is display every type of Thanksgiving decor item, which will just make your house look cluttered, making your guests feel overwhelmed. That’s why a few key accent pieces highlighting specific areas (like buffet tables, fireplace mantles, etc.) is a better way to go.

Kathy Kiefer