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Who Needs Macy's?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

If you consider Thanksgiving a good day to watch a parade (as opposed to watching over a turkey), think beyond Macy's in Manhattan. On Nov. 23, more than 2 million may be reveling in New York City's spectacle, but millions of others will be spread out across the country watching American Idols, game show hosts, children's icons, politicians, clowns, really rich clowns and even golfers parade their pride down the streets. Here are three of those "other" parades worth a look: Philadelphia, Detroit and, yes, Fountain Hills, Ariz.

-- Margaret Roth

Philadelphia

WHERE/WHEN: 6ABC/Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Center City. Start time is 9 a.m.

GOBBLING RIGHTS: Never mind the clunky name, it claims to be the nation's oldest Thanksgiving parade, begun in 1920. (Who knew the Mummers weren't the only parade in town?) Among this year's headliners: grand marshal Winnie the Pooh, Kelly Ripa, "Wheel of Fortune" star Pat Sajak, Paris Bennett and Elliott Yamin of "American Idol," and the bronze statue of Rocky Balboa, back on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art after some quibbling over the meaning of "art."

SLEEPS: At the Hotel Windsor along the parade route (1700 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 877-784-8379, http://www.windsorhotel.com/ ), you can "create your own package." A two-night stay in a studio suite (with full kitchen) runs $249, including continental breakfast for two and a choice of such add-ons as museum tickets, gift certificates or parking. For an amenity-laden high-rise hotel, the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center (17th and Race streets, 800-325-3535, http://www.sheraton.com/ ), has two restaurants open Thanksgiving day, an indoor pool and a fitness center; doubles start at $130 per night prepaid online, then jump to $180.

EATS: Most of the best restaurants near the parade route are in the Old City district. An informal survey found few that will be open Thanksgiving day, however, and those that take reservations are booking up fast. Among them is Bridget Foy's (200 South St., 215-922-1813), serving a Thanksgiving dinner ($18) as well as contemporary American cuisine; dinner entrees are generally $15 to $20. In Chinatown, Penang (117 N. 10th St., 215-413-2531) is part of a national chain specializing in Malaysian food for lunch or dinner; a full meal runs $20 to $30 per person.

INFO: 6ABC (WPVI-TV), 215-581-4507, http://www.wpvi.com/ . For more on the city, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., 800-537-7676, http://www.gophila.com/ .

Detroit

WHERE/WHEN: America's Thanksgiving Parade, downtown. Events start at 7:30 a.m. with the Mashed Potato Mile, one of three runs, followed by the parade at 9:20 along Woodward Avenue, stopping a block from the Detroit River. Curbside viewing is free, while grandstand seats start at $22.

GOBBLING RIGHTS: The parade has been going since 1924, except for two years during World War II. This year promises 75 acts: floats, balloons, bands, clowns and the Distinguished Clown Corps (Detroit bigwigs the likes of Edsel Ford, who contribute $1,000 each to clown in public).

SLEEPS: Barely a mile from the parade's starting point is the Inn on Ferry Street (84 E. Ferry St., 313-871-6000, http://innonferrystreet.com/ ), a collection of four historic mansions and two carriage houses built in the late 1800s; doubles start at $149, including breakfast and afternoon snack. For a bird's-eye look at the Detroit River, the Marriott at the Renaissance Center (800-228-9290, http://www.marriott.com/ ) rises 73 stories with nearly 1,300 rooms, a fitness center and spa, and the RiverCafe, serving three meals with a view; doubles from $129 a night.

EATS: You can count on Honest John's Bar and No Grill (488 Selden St., 313-832-5646), half a mile off Woodward Avenue, never to close. This landmark Detroit bar and grill (ignore the "No") serves burgers and fries, soups, pizza and Michigan microbrews without frills or pretense. A burger and a couple of beers run about $15 per person, including tip. Just north of the parade route is the Majestic Cafe (4124 Woodward Ave., 313-833-9700), part of an entertainment complex with a live music stage and bowling alley. The food (brunch, lunch and dinner) is a blend of American and Mediterranean; sandwiches average $8, dinner entrees $16.

INFO: To order tickets: the Parade Company, 313-923-7400, Ext. 227, or http://www.theparade.org/parade . For more on the city, Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-338-7648, http://www.visitdetroit.com/ .

Fountain Hills, Ariz.

WHERE/WHEN: Parada de los Cerros (Parade of the Hills), in Fountain Hills (pop. 22,500), about 20 miles northeast of Scottsdale. The parade begins at 9 a.m. at the southwest corner of Fountain Park, the town's centerpiece.

GOBBLING RIGHTS: Where else can you watch a Thanksgiving day parade in shorts and a T-shirt? This event is a typical Western hometown hoo-ha dreamed up by a real estate agent who was inspired by Detroit's parade. It's got antique firetrucks, golf carts, a stagecoach and a horse-drawn carriage bearing Santa Claus. And, as a backdrop, a 562-foot-high fountain, not the world's tallest but the tallest one that cycles continuously, 365 days a year.

SLEEPS: The four-diamond CopperWynd Resort and Club is about 10 miles northwest of town (13225 N. Eagle Ridge Dr., 877-707-7760, http://www.copperwynd.com/ ); its double rooms, with private terraces and fireplaces, cost $289 to $294 a night, and numerous packages add spa services and dining. A more economical option with some of the frills is the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites (12800 N. Saguaro Blvd., 888-465-4329, http://www.holiday-inn.com/ ) on the edge of Fountain Park, with an outdoor pool and whirlpool and cocktail lounge; doubles from $134 prepaid, $149 otherwise, including breakfast.

EATS: Pretty much everything in Fountain Hills closes for Thanksgiving -- except for one or two chain restaurants and resort dining rooms including CopperWynd's Alchemy (see above), serving a buffet for $48 per person, plus tax and tip. In Scottsdale, three restaurants at the Phoenician resort (6000 E. Camelback Rd., 480-423-2530) will be open, with a four-course Thanksgiving dinner ranging from $75 per person at the Terrace or Windows on the Green to $125 at the dressy Mary Elaine's .

INFO: Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce, 480-837-1654, http://www.fountainhillschamber.com/ . Arizona Office of Tourism, 866-275-5816, http://www.arizonaguide.com/ .

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