Top Thanksgiving Celebrations and Events For The Family In Connecticut

November 16, 2012 6:00 AM

Photo Credit:

Connecticut is as rich in history as it is in ways to celebrate the holidays. There is no shortage of family-fun opportunities. Whether you prefer to be a part of history or to make your own, this Thanksgiving, enjoy it all from soup to nuts with activities to please everyone’s palate.

2012 UBS Parade Spectacular
Along Summer St. from Hoyt St. to Atlantic St.
Stamford, CT 06905
(203) 348-5285

Date: November 18

For 19 years, one of the biggest events in Connecticut has been Stamford’s annual holiday balloon parade. This year is no exception and the parade will be happening again, just in time for Thanksgiving. Chock full of floats, marching bands, costumed characters, performers and of course, giant helium balloons, this is a day the whole family will enjoy. Favorites like Big Bird, Garfield, Fred Flintstone and Paddington Bear are joined by new arrivals The Lorax and Red from Fraggle Rock. Master of Ceremonies will be Alan Kalter from “Late Night with David Letterman.” The parade begins at noon departing from Summer and Hoyt Streets and winds its way to an end at Atlantic and Federal Streets. Plenty of parking is available throughout the parade route. Be sure to arrive early for the best parking and viewing locations. Don’t miss the balloon inflating party on November 17, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Hoyt and Summer Streets, where all are welcome to watch the balloons come alive and to enjoy a meet and greet with some of the parade’s participants.

Related: Top Bilingual Extracurricular Activities For Kids In Connecticut

Branford Rotary Y Run & Walk
Walsh Intermediate School
185 Damascus Road
Branford, CT 06405
(203) 481-5933

Date: November 22
Click here for registration fees.

If you have an active family, why not make the most of your energy before the traditional Thanksgiving celebration and all of its calories? The Branford Rotary Y Run & Walk has something for everyone and gives back to the community by raising funds for the Soundview Family YMCA as well as the Branford Rotary Foundation. This 5K race/walk travels a scenic, certified course and features a Kids Fun Run as well as offers awards for top finishers in each of several categories. Register online ahead of time or in person on race day. T-shirts are available for those who pre-register and for the first 100 to sign up at the event. After the race, join the Thanksgiving Family Festival and enjoy food, face painting, games and fun. You’ll be done in plenty of time to arrive for dinner with your well earned appetite in tow.

Thanksgiving at The Homestead
Nathan Hale Homestead
2299 S. St.
Coventry, CT 06238
(860) 247-8996

Date: November 24
Price: $8 members/$10 non-members

If you have ever wondered what Thanksgiving was like long ago, consider an afternoon spent at the historic Nathan Hale Homestead. Originally the home of Connecticut’s own Revolutionary War hero, Nathan Hale, and host of many events throughout the year, Thanksgiving weekend is a time for modern families to observe and even participate in preparing a harvest meal just as it was done in the late 1700s. Staff members dressed in period attire will guide you through butter churning, hearth cooking and preserving food to last through the long winter ahead. Take a tour of the house which is furnished with original Hale family items along with antiques dating back to the time the Hales owned the property. Mulled cider and refreshments will be served.

9th Annual Holiday Stroll
East Lyme, CT

Date: November 24

For many, Thanksgiving is just a stepping stone to Christmas. If Thanksgiving leaves you feeling eager to transition into the next holiday season, consider gearing up the old fashioned way with the 9th Annual Holiday Stroll held in the Niantic and Flanders Villages of East Lyme. Carolers, hot cider, cocoa, horse-drawn carriage rides and Santa himself arriving on a fire engine all contribute to the festive atmosphere that culminates with a Christmas tree lighting at 5 p.m. on Liberty Green. Here is where you can actually enjoy family friendly, low-pressure shopping in lieu of (or in addition to) Black Friday madness at the mall.

Related: Top Toy Stores in Connecticut

“Holidaze: The Real Story of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas”
Henry Whitfield State Museum
248 Old Whitfield St.
Guilford, CT 06437
(203) 453-2457

Dates: Now through December 14
Price: Adults $8, seniors $6, children (6-17) $5, 5 and under free

Whether you have children who are just starting to ask questions about holidays that you really don’t have the answers to or you feel like you could use a refresher course yourself, a visit to the Henry Whitfield State Museum for its “Holidaze” exhibit is sure to make a lasting impression on the whole family. Explore the meanings behind holiday traditions and explain away the myths while discovering the reason for stripes on candy canes and what was actually on the first Thanksgiving dinner table. Follow the changes in holiday celebrations through current times, a timely diversion that is sure to satisfy everyone’s curiosity.

Theodora DeBarbieri is an animal advocate, columnist and local TV show host residing in Connecticut. She is owned by a number of dogs, cats and birds. Her work can be found at