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Superstorm victims enjoy Macy’s parade

Millions attend holiday spectacle

  • The Spider-Man balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off in New York on Thursday, putting a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)The Spider-Man balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off in New York on Thursday, putting a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • Dressed as a clock, Amy Allaire, of Norwich, N.Y., foreground center, waits with others to take part in the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)Dressed as a clock, Amy Allaire, of Norwich, N.Y., foreground center, waits with others to take part in the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
  • Members of the Kenton Ridge High School Marching Cougar Band, from Springfield, Ohio, make their way along New York's Central Park South as the Kung Fu Panda balloon follows behind them during the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)Members of the Kenton Ridge High School Marching Cougar Band, from Springfield, Ohio, make their way along New York's Central Park South as the Kung Fu Panda balloon follows behind them during the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
  • The Sailor Mickey balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)The Sailor Mickey balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • The Hello Kitty Balloon makes it's way down New York's Central Park West in the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)The Hello Kitty Balloon makes it's way down New York's Central Park West in the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)Carly Rae Jepsen rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SABAN BRANDS - Paul Frank's Julius soars through the streets of New York at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012. †(Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Saban Bramds/AP Images)IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SABAN BRANDS - Paul Frank's Julius soars through the streets of New York at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012. †(Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Saban Bramds/AP Images)
  • People watch the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)People watch the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
  • The Julius balloon moves through Columbus Circle as it participates in the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)The Julius balloon moves through Columbus Circle as it participates in the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
  • Jimmy Fallon rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)Jimmy Fallon rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • Costumed parade participants march in the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)Costumed parade participants march in the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
  • The Elf on the Shelf balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)The Elf on the Shelf balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • Whoopi Goldberg rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with Superstorm Sandy's havoc, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)Whoopi Goldberg rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with Superstorm Sandy's havoc, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • The Harold the Fireman balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off in New York on Thursday, putting a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)The Harold the Fireman balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off in New York on Thursday, putting a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • Santa Claus makes his way through Herald Square in  the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012, in New York.  The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off in New York on Thursday, putting a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.   (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)Santa Claus makes his way through Herald Square in the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off in New York on Thursday, putting a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
  • Reagon Long, 3, from Oxford, N.Y, background center, watches the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)Reagon Long, 3, from Oxford, N.Y, background center, watches the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
  • Santa Claus waves to the crowd at Herald Square during the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012, in New York (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)Santa Claus waves to the crowd at Herald Square during the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,Thursday, Nov 22, 2012, in New York (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
  • The Charlie Brown balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)The Charlie Brown balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • Members of the Gahanna Lincoln Marching Band play during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia.  New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Members of the Gahanna Lincoln Marching Band play during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • The Elf on the Shelf balloon makes it's way through New York's Columbus Circle during the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)The Elf on the Shelf balloon makes it's way through New York's Columbus Circle during the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
  • Spectators cheer during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Spectators cheer during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • Trace Adkins rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)Trace Adkins rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • Flo Rida and Stayc Reigns ride a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)Flo Rida and Stayc Reigns ride a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • The T-Rex balloon make its way down 16th Street in view of City Hall during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)The T-Rex balloon make its way down 16th Street in view of City Hall during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • Four year-old twins Kaiden Leach, left, and Kayla Leach watch the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Four year-old twins Kaiden Leach, left, and Kayla Leach watch the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus wave to spectators during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus wave to spectators during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • Irina Ahissou, 5, waves to Santa Claus as she sits on the shoulders of her brother Stely Ahissou, 12, during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Irina Ahissou, 5, waves to Santa Claus as she sits on the shoulders of her brother Stely Ahissou, 12, during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • Spectators wave as they watch the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Spectators wave as they watch the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • The Sailor Mickey balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. . The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)The Sailor Mickey balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. . The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade put a festive mood in the air in a city still coping with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • The Kung Fu Panda balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)The Kung Fu Panda balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The American harvest holiday came as portions of the Northeast were still coping with the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and volunteers planned to serve thousands of turkey dinners to people it left homeless or struggling. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
  • Handlers lower the T-Rex balloon down to the spectators during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)Handlers lower the T-Rex balloon down to the spectators during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
  • The Frosty the Snowman balloon make its way down 16th Street in view of City Hall during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia .New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)The Frosty the Snowman balloon make its way down 16th Street in view of City Hall during the 93rd annual Thanksgiving day parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in Philadelphia .New York, Chicago, and Detroit are also among the cities hosting holiday parades. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)
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NEW YORK — Victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast were comforted Thursday by kinder weather, free holiday meals and – for some – front row seats to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"It means a lot," said Karen Panetta, of the hard-hit Broad Channel section of Queens, as she sat in a special viewing section set aside for New Yorkers displaced by the storm.

"We're thankful to be here and actually be a family and to feel like life's a little normal today," she said.

The popular Macy's parade, attended by more than 3 million people and watched by 50 million on TV, included such giant balloons as Elf on a Shelf and Papa Smurf, a new version of Hello Kitty, Buzz Lightyear, Sailor Mickey Mouse and the Pillsbury Doughboy. Real-life stars included singer Carly Rae Jepsen and Rachel Crow of "The X Factor."

The young, and the young at heart, were delighted by the sight and sound of marching bands, performers and, of course, the giant balloons. The sunny weather quickly surpassed 50 degrees.

Alan Batt and his 11-year-old twins, Kyto and Elina, took in the parade at the end of the route, well away from the crowd and seemingly too far away for a good view. But they had an advantage: two tall stepladders they hauled over from their apartment eight blocks away – one for each twin.

"We're New Yorkers," the 65-year-old Mr. Batt said. "We know what we're doing."

With the height advantage, "I get to see everything!" Kyto said.

At nearby Greeley Square, social worker Lowell Herschberger, 40, of Brooklyn, sought in vain to tear his sons, 8-year-old Logan and 6-year-old Liam, from a foosball table set up in the tiny park as the balloons crept by on the near horizon.

"Hey, guys – there's Charlie Brown," he said, pointing at the old standby balloon.

The boys didn't look up.

"I guess they're over it," the father said with a shrug.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was reflective Thursday as he praised police, firefighters, armed services personnel, sanitation workers and volunteers involved in the storm response. His office was coordinating the distribution of 26,500 meals at 30 sites in neighborhoods affected by Sandy, and other organizations also were pitching in.

The disaster zones on Staten Island were flooded – this time with food and volunteers from Glen Rock, N.J., organized using social media.

"We had three carloads of food," said volunteer Beth Fernandez. "The whole town of Glen Rock pitched in. It's really cool. It's my best, my favorite Thanksgiving ever."

On Long Island, the Long Beach nonprofit Surf For All hosted a Thanksgiving event that fed 1,200 people. Carol Gross, 72, a Long Beach native, said she went to volunteer but was turned away because of a surplus of helpers.

"A lot of people like me, old-timers, we've never seen anything like this horror," she said, recalling the destruction.

Ms. Gross' brother, Jerry, who moved to Arizona in the 1960s, was stunned by what he saw when he returned for Thanksgiving.

"To come back and see the boardwalk all devastated like it is, it's like going to Manhattan and finding Times Square gone," he said.

George Alvarez, whose Toms River, N.J., home suffered moderate damage when Sandy hit the coast, said his family usually does "the traditional big dinner" on Thanksgiving. But this year, they chose to attend a community dinner held at an area church.

"This storm not only impacted us, it impacted a lot of our friends, our community, our psyche," Mr. Alvarez said shortly before his family headed out for their meal. "We could have had our usual dinner here at home, but this year it felt like we should be with others who are experiencing the same concerns we are. We made it through this devastating storm, and that's something to celebrate."

Across the country, other cities offered a mix of holiday cheer and acts of charity.

Thousands of people made the most of the mild, sunny fall weather to watch Detroit's Thanksgiving parade, hours ahead of the Lions' annual home game.

Floats and marching bands poured down Woodward Avenue on Thursday morning, with many spectators forgoing the cold-weather gear of past parades. Detroit's temperature hit 52 degrees at 11 a.m., with a warm wind blowing from the South.

Parade participants also included NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, a 28-year-old Rochester Hills native and the first Michigan-born driver to win the Sprint Cup Series.

In San Francisco, lines of the homeless and less fortunate began forming late Wednesday outside a church in the city's tough Tenderloin district that expected to serve more than 5,000 meals, said the Rev. Cecil Williams.

"We must make sure people can overcome all adversities," Mr. Williams said. "You can, you will and you must."

AP writers Julie Walker, Ted Shaffrey, Kiley Armstrong, Karen Matthews, Alison Barnwell, Bruce Shipkowski and Terry Collins contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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