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Families Gather To Give Thanks

November 27, 1997

Families of all sizes gathered to give thanks and chow down Thursday, from a huge clan in Ohio that has celebrated together for the past 60 years to the McCaugheys of Iowa _ with seven new members who aren’t quite ready for turkey, yet.

Alice Najarian has played host to a family feast in Swanton, Ohio, every year since 1937 _ when 30 people showed up. This year, Mrs. Najarian, 84, needed 30 loaves of bread to make enough stuffing for 115 people.

Mrs. Najarian is one of three family members who have made it to each of the celebrations _ which feature pinochle, football and lots of gabbing _ and she hopes to continue that streak.

``If I’m up to it, I’ll try it another year,″ she said.

Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey planned to spend much of the holiday at the hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, where their septuplets were born Nov. 19.

In New York, wind gusts of up to 40 mph made some people thankful they weren’t in charge of the 17 huge balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Most of the balloons didn’t finish the 2 1/2 mile route. Chocolate milk hawker Quik Bunny made it, although he was deflated and face first on the asphalt by the time he reached Macy’s.

``We lost an ear at Columbus Circle and the head in the theater district. It’s amazing we made it this far,″ said Carmela Slivinski, one of the volunteer handlers. ``It was a real battle. I wouldn’t want to do this again.″

The Cat in the Hat balloon knocked down a streetlight, injuring four people. One woman was in serious condition with head injuries.

About 9,000 runners in Atlanta built up an appetite before the big meal by competing in a marathon Thursday morning. Elsewhere in the city, the Rev. Hosea Williams held his annual at his Feed the Hungry and Homeless dinner.

``We’re doing much more than feeding hungry bellies. We’re feeding hungry minds. We’re trying to lift the spirits of the downtrodden,″ said Williams, who expected to serve about 35,000 people.

A 27-year tradition came to an end in Salt Lake City. Chris Ritzakis, owner of Nector’s restaurant, said he couldn’t afford the $5,000 it costs to provide a free meal to about 2,000 of the city’s needy.

``I hate to break a tradition, but all good things have to come to an end,″ said Ritzakis, whose financial problems stem from a recently opened second restaurant.

About 150 people in Durango, Colo., ate their Thanksgiving meal aboard the Mayflower _ a 60-foot-long van converted by the moving company.

About 200,000 people were expected Thursday night in downtown Kansas City, Mo., where Marcus Allen, running back for the NFL’s Chiefs, was to throw on a switch turning on 60 miles of Christmas lights in the city’s shopping district.

About 400 families at Moody Air Force Base in south Georgia were thinking of loved ones who were deployed this month to the Persian Gulf.

``On holiday deployments, most of the time you just treat it as another day,″ said Air Force spokesman Col. Billy Diehl. ``You don’t want to think about it otherwise, because you will start missing home and the family.″

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