As families gather together this holiday season, the lucky ones will avoid impassioned discussions about religion and politics. But another argument is almost inevitable: white meat versus dark meat.

Thanksgiving Day Parade
Kyo N Ham / Charlotte Center City Partners

Charlotte’s Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade will kick off 9 a.m. Thursday in uptown.  The 71st annual parade will feature giant balloons, 13 marching bands and 17 floats – including one to celebrate Charlotte’s 250th anniversary as a city.  The parade is produced by Charlotte Center City Partners, which took over when the parade was in jeopardy of folding in 2013.


Every year it seems like Black Friday creeps closer and closer to Thanksgiving dinner. But why?

Andy Ellen, the president and general counsel of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association, says the retail shopping push further into Thanksgiving Day is inevitable. 

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

On a recent afternoon, inside a bustling, 8,000 square foot warehouse off Remount Road, workers are carrying out their final preparations for this year's Thanksgiving Day Parade. On one end of the warehouse, workers are testing a life-size locomotive that's spewing steam from its smokestack. On the other end, a painter is doing detail work on Santa's workshop.

WFAE archieves

Today, as you roast your turkey, grill your vegetables or consider where you’ll order takeout consider this: way back in the day a great Thanksgiving meal could make the newspaper. And we’re not talking about reviews. Here's the story of just such a feast.

This particular Thanksgiving meal was spotted by Nicholas Graham, a librarian at UNC Chapel Hill. "Well, we do a lot of work digitizing old newspapers," Graham explains. 

Open source clip art

Today is Thanksgiving Day, legally defined as the fourth Thursday in November. But here in North Carolina it wasn’t always thus. We might even want to give thanks a specific day was eventually set.

Thanksgiving Week Traffic Overview

Nov 25, 2014
James Willamor / Flickr

Low gas prices and an improving economy have contributed to the projected busiest holiday travel in six years.

Inflating The Thanksgiving Day Parade

Nov 27, 2013
Tasnim Shamma / WFAE

There was a chance this year, that for the first time in 67 years, Charlotte would not have a Thanksgiving Day Parade. Once Belk stepped down as the main sponsor, organizers said they were unable to raise the money to keep the parade afloat. But a few weeks later, Novant Health stepped in and committed to be the title sponsor for three years and the parade was back on.

WFAE's Tasnim Shamma joined workers as they put last minute touches on the floats before the big day.

At a parking lot in uptown, there's a row of white tents where a 15-foot turkey will be inflated.

Commentary: Thanksgiving 1963

Nov 22, 2013

Thanksgiving 1963 was a somber occasion because of the assassination of President Kennedy the previous week. Commentator Gus Succop says his death made Thanksgiving especially important that year. He also learned a lifelong lesson that day.

Many of us still remember exactly where we were on November 22, 1963.  I was in fifth grade.  After gym that day, our PE teacher told us the news: the president had been shot.  We looked at each other as if our teacher had just spoken to us in Swahili.  That weekend, our family ate every meal in front of our black-and-white television set.

Charlotte Won't Have A Parade This Thanksgiving

Aug 12, 2013
Carolinas' Carrousel Parade

Charlotte will not have a Thanksgiving Day parade this year for the first time in more than 65 years. That's because the organizers of the Carolinas' Carrousel Parade were unable to raise the money. Belk stepped down as the main sponsor after last year's parade. Jeff Collins is president of the Carrousel board of directors.

An Ear Around Charlotte On Black Friday

Nov 24, 2012
Ben Bradford / WFAE

Super stores, including Walmart, K-Mart, and Target opened on the night before Black Friday this year. At the Target near Uptown, Juanita Stinson sketched out her shopping plan.

"I don’t plan on getting home 'til seven in the morning or later," Stinson says. "Go to sleep, get up around 3 in the afternoon, hit it again."

But, some people don’t approve of Black Friday’s encroachment into the holiday.

Michael Tomsic

Thousands of Charlotte families are eating a Thanksgiving meal that was provided by food pantries. Beverly Howard is the director of the 19 Loaves and Fishes pantries in Mecklenburg County. Howard said they gave out close to 1,000 turkeys on Wednesday alone.

"The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for Loaves and Fishes," Howard said. "When you think about holidays, Thanksgiving is about sharing a meal, so more people need help Thanksgiving week than any other time."

"Spatchcocking." If it’s happening around here this Thanksgiving, nobody’s talking about it – yet.

The peculiar term is probably English in origin. It describes an unusual way to prepare a chicken or turkey, and it’s unlike the traditional Norman Rockwell presentation we’re used to. Yes, those rounded mounds of roasted poultry look beautiful. But too often, their crispy skins hide dried-out white meat, still-pink dark meat - or both. It’s difficult to cook something the size of a turkey evenly. Harder still to keep it moist and flavorful.

Those who dread a lonesome holiday, listen up.

It’s possible to find a friend and trade hosting. Nov. 22 marks the 26th time we’ve swapped hosting.

It can work. Trust me on this.