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Detroit Free Press, Kathleen Galligan, Associated Press
The 85th America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011.

DETROIT — The Motor City had two rush hours Thursday morning, as an early crowd of parents and children headed for Woodward Avenue for the Detroit Thanksgiving parade and a later wave of Lions fans backed up for a mile at expressway exits as they honed in on Ford Field.

Winds gusting to 22 miles per hour and temperatures in the mid-30s made bundling up crucial for parade-goers.

Before the parade's start, 21,000 runners followed the course for the Turkey Trot races, competing at distances of 1 mile, 5 and 10 kilometers.

The thousands lining the parade route for the 9 a.m. start, watched dozens of floats and hundreds of marching musicians, including the 170-person Viking Marching Bad from Walled Lake Central High School.

Forty dancers from Deborah's State Door dressed as hot dogs, and a 41st costumed as a bottle of mustard, made up a contingent sponsored by the National Coney Island restaurant group.

A cluster of Ford Model T cars testified to Detroit's status as America's battered but rebounding auto capital.

The parade ended with the arrival of Santa Claus, who received a key to the city from Mayor Dave Bing.

"Oh My goodness," Santa said. "You know, Mayor Bing, I've been coming to Detroit for 85 years, to this great city."

Later in the day, the Lions took center stage with their annual Thanksgiving game against the Green Bay Packers that kicked off at 12:30 p.m. The Packers won 27-15.

Detroit's Thanksgiving parade is in its 85th year, long sponsored by the Hudson's department store chain and since 1984 by the nonprofit civic group The Parade Company. Formally titled America's Thanksgiving Parade, this year's event has the theme "So Much To Believe" as an expression of hope for Detroit and Michigan.

In neighborhoods around Michigan, clusters of cars began to form outside homes that were hosting Thanksgiving celebrations. As the holiday feasts were getting under way, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow issued a statement urging people to consider the needs of those less fortunate.

"Let's stand together for the many Michigan families who are out of work and are having trouble putting food on the table for their families," Stabenow said. "Together we can send a message that no one in Michigan should ever go without enough to eat."

In suburban Detroit, a religious group that espouses vegetarianism asked for consideration of the animal lives sacrificed to make Thanksgiving possible.

The Jain Temple in Farmington Hills held a prayer service "for all the turkeys that are going to be killed."

"They have a life, too," temple member Abhishek Jain told the Detroit Free Press. "They have a right to live."

Other Michiganians used Thanksgiving to get a jump on the Christmas shopping season. In Battle Creek, people occupied tents outside a Best Buy Store, awaiting Black Friday's sales offerings, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. The Flint Journal and Saginaw News reported similar lines at Best Buy outlets in their areas.

David N. Goodman can be reached at http://twitter.com/DavidNGoodman