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Across The Nation, Americans Pause To Give Thanks

November 28, 1986

Undated (AP) _ Turkey went down by the ton Thursday, helium-filled cartoon characters sailed over parade-watchers’ heads, and in Plymouth, Mass., a fellow named Pilgeram - pronounced ″Pilgrim″ - had a Thanksgiving Day marriage aboard a replica of the Mayflower.

It was all part of the nation’s tradition of giving thanks as the harvest season wanes, a tradition begun, minus parades and football games, by the Pilgrims more than 3 1/2 centuries ago.

Across the country, hundreds of volunteers gave up part of their holiday on behalf of those less fortunate, helping serve meals to thousands of the poor, the elderly, the homeless.

″I’m probably the happiest person in the city of Indianapolis today because I just know that people are being helped,″ said the Rev. Mozel Sanders of the Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church.

He and a squadron of volunteers continued his 13-year tradition of feeding poor and shut-ins, serving free turkey dinners to about 16,000 people.

But an Italian immigrant’s dream of feeding 100 needy people failed when no one showed up for the dinner at his Oak Lawn, Ill., auto dealership.

″I’m saddened. I thought I could do something great, and then I’m stuck with a lot of food and no stomachs,″ said Frank Mancari, who donated the $1,300 worth of food to a mission in Chicago.

Mancari said he told representatives of Catholic Charities of Chicago to bring people to the meal.

Dolores Dorman, the organization’s public relations director, said parishes in the suburban Chicago area were contacted and had promised to send people.

Mancari said he would try again next year.

In Massachusetts, Allen Pilgeram exchanged wedding vows with Marsha Padilla before televison crews aboard the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America and docked near Plymouth Rock.

″It just started out to be a nice quiet wedding and it’s been blown out of proportion, creating a lot of commotion here,″ said Pilgeram, 47, an airline pilot. He and Miss Padilla, a corrections officer, both from Woods Cross, Utah, were invited by the town, which took over the arrangements.

″I always thought it would be really great to marry a Pilgeram on the Mayflower on Thanksgiving Day,″ she said before the ceremony.

President Reagan spent a quiet Thanksgiving with his family at his ranch 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, Calif. He and wife, Nancy, shared a traditional dinner with Reagan’s brother, Neil, son Ron, daughter Maureen and their spouses. The other Reagan children, Patti and Michael, spent the day with their respective in-laws.

Except for some rain and mountain snow in the Northwest and showers in parts of the South, weather across the nation posed few travel problems.

But wind was a problem for clowns holding the ropes to the 12 giant balloons in Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Police estimated the crowd watching the balloons, as well as 30 floats and 17 bands, at 650,000.

Wind also created problems for the cartoon character balloons in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, but thanks to their construction, punctures did not knock them flat. Superman lost his left hand when he drifted into the trees of Central Park, Olive Oyl’s toothpick-thin arm was torn, and Humpty Dumpty’s left foot was deflated.

″My arms are tired, and I’m only one hour into it,″ said Mike Poma of Brooklyn, a member of Olive Oyl’s balloon brigade. ″I press weights, but this is really rough.″

A 61-year-old Scotsman who was a drummer for the British Caledonia Airways bagpipe and drum corps collapsed and died of a heart attack during the New York parade, police said. A 44-year-old woman watching the parade fell from a fourth-floor window, striking a spectator on the ground, but neither was seriously hurt.

Help for the needy was emphasized across the country.

One of the largest giveaways was in Denver, where restaurateur ″Daddy″ Bruce Randolph fed thousands of people.

″Everybody’s welcome, anybody who’s hungry,″ the 86-year-old Randolph said as he rang the dinner bell signaling the start of the mass meal. National Guardsmen were among the 3,000 volunteers who pitched in to help cook.

Estimates of the number of people taking Randolph up on his 25-year-old tradition varied, but he claims his staff counted 100,000 plates last year.

Gospel music filled the air at the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles, as an estimated 3,000 lined up for a turkey dinner for the homeless.

″They’ve been cooking turkeys for a week,″ said Bob Thiemke, who has been living at the mission since coming in off the streets in 1978. ″It’s good to know someody cares enough to give you a decent meal.″

History was the theme at Coe Elementary School in Nashville, Tenn., where kindergartners dressed up as Pilgrims to churn butter, peel apples, make cornmeal cakes and mix venison stew.

Kathy McCrary, 5, said it was fun but a little confusing. ″I’m a Pilgrim girl,″ she said. ″I don’t know exactly what a Pilgrim is, but I do know Pilgrim girls had to work real hard.″

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