By Sarah Schrock
Thanksgiving traditions obviously center around food, family and friends, but of a more curious nature: football and parades. I got a little curious about these latter traditions and their place in the American household, and here’s a little trivia to impress your relatives at the dinner table this Thursday.
The football tradition began almost as far back as the original designation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. According to History.com and Wiki, Yale and Princeton played their first Thanksgiving game in 1876. But a few years earlier in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the local cricket club hosted a “football” match on Thanksgiving Day, matching two clubs just two weeks after the new sport was established in 1869.
Other big rivalries followed suit, scheduling games to attract more people to the sport. In 1934 the owner of the Detroit Lions wanted to bolster excitement for his new team and declared a Thanksgiving game tradition. And in the mid-century, the Dallas Cowboys claimed Thanksgiving as an annual hosted game for their team. Today there are always Lions and Cowboys games held on Thanksgiving.
As for the parade, it began in 1924 just after Macy’s went public and built the largest retail store on earth (at the time). The Macy’s “Christmas Parade” was, not surprisingly, a way to get New Yorkers pumped up for the Christmas buying season.
The original parade stretched 6 miles through Manhattan, featuring live animals and Macy’s employees dressed in a menagerie of costumes. The event was scheduled so that New Yorkers would have time to watch the football game in the afternoon at the nearby Polo Club, indicating that by the 1920s, the football tradition was well established.
Today’s parade hosts iconic character balloons like Snoopy and Garfield, marching bands from around the nation, and live performances from pop stars. With the rise of Amazon and the decline of bricks-and-mortar stores like Macy’s, it’s interesting to wonder what the future holds for this tradition.
Here in the valley there are a few traditions worth mentioning. First, there’s Christmas at the End of the Road, which, like the Macy’s parade, is intended — in part — to help spur shopping.
The event runs in Winthrop this weekend. While there are no Snoopy balloons, Morning Glory Balloons will light up Friday night with a balloon glow featuring one of their own colorful orbs. Saturday, a fun run will kick of the day and Santa will be at the Winthrop Barn for photos and Kid’s Winterfest.
If you have family visiting, a Thanksgiving Day walk often brings families outside together to burn off the stuffing. I have a few favorites near Twisp:
• The Cottonwood Trail. This is a newly established walking trail along the Methow River located along the Old Twisp Highway just south of the Methow Valley United Methodist Church. The trail follows the banks of the river and loops back through a restored riparian zone and old agricultural field. It’s a recent project forged from an alliance between Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Methow Natives and Methow Salmon Recovery. The trail is an easy loop fit for all levels and ages, with beautiful river views and mountain vistas.
• Pipestone Canyon. The canyon offers a longer, more dramatic climb and views for the intrepid adventures who can see the after-effect from the Carlton Complex Fire that raged through the canyon. With leaves off the trees, the canyon rock formations are visible from all elevations.
• In town, there are two great options that don’t require you to get in your car — the new Twisp Riverfront Trail and the Salmon Recovery Ponds. The new Twisp Riverfront Trail is an extension from Twisp Park along the banks of the Methow River and it’s truly worth giving thanks for, as this trail is the first in-town trail to be secured and built as part of a greater effort to create a more walkable town! The extension of the trail follows the river and puts back along Canyon Street where you can walk into town.
The Salmon Recovery Ponds located just on the outskirts of town can be accessed from Twisp River Road or at the terminus of Twisp Avenue from town. A network of nature paths weaves through wetlands and riparian forests along the Twisp River and showcase local pieces of art.
Mark your calendars for Mistletoe Madness on Dec. 7. The evening of shopping and wagon rides through Twisp is an annual tradition renamed this year as it joins with Gear Up for the Holidays at TwispWorks. Along with the holiday bazaars, Mistletoe Madness supports our local economy and artisans and is a great way to see the town energized at night for the holidays.