NEW YORK — Millions of Americans were thankful just to arrive at their Thanksgiving feasts on Thursday after a snowstorm dumped up to 20 inches of snow on Eastern states, causing flight delays and power outages.
Snow flurries drifted over Thomas the Tank Engine, Snoopy and other giant helium balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, where police reported the disorderly conduct arrests of at least seven protesters who had vowed over social media to throw the event into disarray to show outrage over the racially charged Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri.
The demonstrators were arrested on Sixth Avenue and 37th Street. They had been allowed to cross the parade route but then tried to disrupt the procession, knocking over police barricades and breaking windows, said a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department.
Skies were expected to clear throughout the East Coast, which was slammed overnight by a wet snowstorm that wrought havoc with holiday travelers and cooks.
“Paw Paw, West Virginia – that’s where the jackpot was for snowfall amounts,” said meteorologist Andrew Orrison of the National Weather Service, noting the tiny town was buried under 20 inches (51 cm) of snow.
Oatmeal-like wet snow piled as high as 15 inches (38 cm) in the town of Savoy in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts and 14.6 inches (37.1 cm) in Warrensburg in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.
Heavy snow snapped tree limbs which damaged lines, causing hundreds of thousands of power outages from Maine to Virginia, utilities said, and the damage could takes days to repair. Public Service of New Hampshire said 140,000 customers were without power and Central Maine Power Company said on Thursday it was working to restore power to 86,213 households.
U.S. flight schedules were upended for a second day during the year’s busiest travel period, with 56 flights canceled and 403 delayed on Thursday, according to FlightAware.com. On Wednesday, more than 700 U.S. flights were canceled and about 4,400 were delayed, it said.
More than 46 million Americans are expected to make trips between Wednesday and Sunday, travel group AAA said, with more than 89 percent traveling by car.
Cooks able to fire up their ovens prepared traditional pumpkin pies, stuffings and roasted turkeys, with a small but growing number preparing heritage turkeys linked to the country’s early settlers.
Plumbers from coast to coast, meanwhile, girded for one of their busiest days of the year, when some harried cooks dump the grease from their roasted birds down the drain, inadvertently clogging household pipes and having to call for help.
It is a Thanksgiving tradition that for years has resulted in a 50 percent increase in calls on the Friday after the holiday to Roto-Rooter, the biggest U.S. plumbing and drain cleaning service, compared to a normal Friday, said company spokesman Paul Abrams.
(Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York, Ian Simpson in Washington and Colleen Jenkins in Wake Forest, North Carolina)