Turkey Tales: Wacky American Thanksgiving Celebrations

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Lets face it: Americans know how to celebrate a holiday. Take Thanksgiving—in Canada we celebrate in October by stuffing our faces with…er…stuffing, along with turkey and all the other trimmings until we’re so full it’s a struggle to not fall asleep in our pumpkin pie. The highlight for most people is simply the fact that they get a long weekend.

In the U.S., however, Thanksgiving is more of an event than a holiday. It always begins with the president pardoning a turkey or two before millions of their feathered cousins are gobbled down with a side of cranberry sauce but, sometimes, that’s merely the beginning of the silliness the occasion brings out in people.

Read on for more wacky American Thanksgiving celebrations.

Major League Eating

Any event sponsored by “the official whiskey of Thanksgiving” is bound to be a classy affair. In 2011, contestants attempted to down a 10 pound roast turkey in 10 minutes at the inaugural Wild Turkey 81 Eating World Championships in New York.

Sponsored by Wild Turkey 81, contestants vied for over $3000 in prize money and the Wild Turkey 81 championship belt. In the end Sonya “the Black Widow” Thomas, who weighed all of 100 lbs., won the contest, gobbling down 5.25 lbs. of turkey in 10 minutes. Wild Turkey 81 also donated 81 turkeys to a local food bank to help families who may otherwise go without.

Here in Canada, our Thanksgiving doesn’t even have an official alcohol or spirit, let alone competitive eating. No wonder the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock instead of Thunder Bay.

Frozen Bird Bowling

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

Some Americans give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon them by taking a frozen turkey, greasing it up real good and launching it into a collection of plastic bottles.

Of course, some who partake are doing it for a good cause. A group of community establishments in Council Bluffs, Iowa, charges money to enter the game and then donates it all to the YMCA Strong Kids campaign. Another turkey bowling event takes place at Texas Christian University. Inspired by an American Cancer Association initiative, students are encouraged to bowl with the birds while quitting smoking “cold turkey” at the same time. Clever, eh?

If bowling is not your game, turkeys, evidently, are useful props in other sports as well. As late-night hosts Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon demonstrated on The Tonight Show in 2011, the frozen bird also makes a great puck in a game of “Frozen Turkey Shuffleboard” (they’ve removed the video so you’ll have to take our word for it).

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Ah, the famed Macy’s department store tradition. True, the beloved New York parade, which is broadcast across the country, featuring large balloon animals, revelers and even an appearance by Santa Claus isn’t particularly wacky. However, the parade wasn’t always so jolly and bright. In its first few years, city officials actually opened the doors of the local zoo to the parade organizers and allowed LIVE animals to march through the streets of New York, giving a whole new meaning to the term “concrete jungle.” If you thought traffic in the city was bad already, imagine trying to hail a cab that’s swerving to avoid a rogue elephant. Not to mention the potholes those portly pachyderms leave behind.

In Canada, we also have some pretty fantastic Santa Claus parades this time of year. Though instead of live animals we have creepy upside-down clowns walking on their hands. It’s hard to decide which is worse…

Take Your Turkey to the Gym

Instructors at a local Indianapolis gym taught those who brought a frozen turkey in how to utilize it in their Pilates routine.

Why can’t Canadians get into the spirit of combining food with working out? We could play hockey with a can of cranberry sauce, or run a marathon called the Mashed Potato Mile where you’re handed cups filled with thick gravy instead of water by bystanders on the sidelines.

Thanksgiving and TV Dinners? Genius!

It’s not an event, but rather a fun fact. Evidently, television dinners were invented by Swanson in the 1950s as a way of making use of all the frozen turkeys they had left over from Thanksgiving. Not a bad idea, when you think about it. Good ol’ ingenuity—now there’s something to be thankful for!