South Philadelphia Thanksgiving Memories by Bill Festa


Every year I look forward to the cool, crisp days that lead up to Thanksgiving

This is one of my favorite holidays.  In my youth, the day would start by attending the Southern-Neumann football game first thing in the morning (my Uncle Dom Paranzino worked in the ticket booth and would let me in for free).  It seemed as though everybody was there.  Then I would rush home to catch the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade to watch Santa Claus climb an eight story high ladder into Gimbels department store.  However, the culmination of the day came when we sat down to a meal prepared with tender loving care by grandparents, parents and aunts.  There was a lot of conversation, baking, eating and visiting.  This was special because we spent the day with friends, and with relatives who lived nearby.

And I particularly looked forward to the days following, because that’s when my family would go “downtown” to look at the beautiful Christmas displays in the store windows.  They were decorated with toys, trains, elves and reindeer.  We’d make our way over to the light show at Wanamakers and take a mesmerizing walk through the “Enchanted Village” in Lit Brothers.

I’m grown up now but these special family days from my childhood are just as important to me today.  I still love going to Center City with my family, especially on a fall afternoon just after Thanksgiving – it makes me think of these great times.  Family – traditions – and just being together, that’s what I’m thankful for at Thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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