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Thanksgiving, New Orleans Style: The Best Turkey Day in America

Here are five ways to have a New Orleans Thanksgiving like none other.

Rebirth Brass Band. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Does it involve Aunt Ethel’s overcooked turkey, a mound of mashed potatoes, and a seat in front of the television watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Boorrring. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Crescent City during Thanksgiving season, you have the opportunity to have the most fantastic, warm-weathered Turkey Day that you could possibly imagine. Here are five ways to revel in holiday cheer!

Rebirth Brass Band brings joyful noise — and a little friendly competition — on Thanksgiving Night. (Photo via Facebook)

1. Go to a musical throw-down 

Add some live tunes to your Turkey Day itinerary on Nov. 24 with Rebirth Brass Band, one of the oldest, funkiest, brassiest bands in town at 9 p.m. at Howlin’ Wolf. You can also take a stroll down Frenchmen Street on Wednesday or Thursday night for a constant stream of live music. Here before the big day? Rebirth also plays its in-residence set at the Maple Leaf Bar on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

2. Eat a turducken and a Thanksgiving po-boy

It’s a Louisiana classic: the body of a turkey stuffed with chicken, duck, and yes, turkey. For the meat lover, the Turducken is where’s it’s at! Imagine surprising Aunt Ethel by making your very own Turducken on Thanksgiving Day. Here’s another New Orleans secret Thanksgiving treat: Parkway Tavern features a Thanksgiving po-boy — a divine commingling of turkey, stuffing, cranberries and gravy. It’s only around once a year, so get it soon!

The Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Photo via mybayouclassic.com)

3. Catch a Thanksgiving Day parade

I’ll take a New Orleans Thanksgiving Day Parade over Macy’s any day! The Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Parade will kick off in front of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Thanksgiving Day at 4 p.m. There will be floats, there will be brass, and best of all there will be music. Get on down!

Scenic City Park is the place to race on Thanksgiving Day. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

4. Run, walk, or watch the 109th annual Turkey Day Race

The oldest ongoing road race in the entire nation takes place in New Orleans on Thanksgiving Day. Starting at 8:30 a.m., the Turkey Day Race is a 5 mile run/walk and a half mile fun-run for the kiddies. There are always throngs of fully-costumed turkeys trotting through the winding race route in City Park, so even if you don’t end up running, it’s fun to watch. BONUS: You get FREE BEER at the end of the race. I swear, New Orleans is the only city where you run straight through the finish line and right to the beer.

Horses line up to exercise at the Fair Grounds Race Course. (Photo: Shira Pinsker)

5. Spend Thanksgiving at the Track

Thanksgiving in New Orleans is a horse of a different color, and perhaps no tradition better proves it than the fair grounds’ Thanksgiving at the Track event. Come dressed to impress as you mingle, hobnob, and watch the thoroughbreds speed past. There’s a buffet in the upper-level club house (21+ only), or you can choose from concessions on the ground level. Live racing runs from 12:30 until about 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24).

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