NEW YORK – Spectators cheered and sang at annual Thanksgiving Day parades from New York to Philadelphia to Detroit and friends enjoyed feasts with strangers at Occupy protest gatherings, reminding each other there is much to be grateful for despite the country’s hard economic times.

Delighted crowds gathered Thursday for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the streets of Manhattan under brilliant sunshine. From their own homes, millions more viewed the live broadcast of the annual holiday production on television.

“Here comes Snoopy!” said an excited Regan Lynch, 5, nudging her grandfather, Nick Pagnozzi.

Pagnozzi, 59, of Saddle River, N.J., drove into the city at 6 a.m. to get a seat on the bleachers along Central Park West. He said Regan wanted to ensure he took pictures of every balloon.

In all, the Macy’s parade featured more than 40 balloon creations, 27 floats, 800 clowns and 1,600 cheerleaders. Star appearances included Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne and the Muppets of Sesame Street. Some performances were at a stage at the end of the route in Herald Square; others were on floats.

“I feel like a kid all over, man, you know?” said Green, who rode a float featuring young hockey players.

Giant balloon versions of a jetpack-wearing monkey and a freakish creation from filmmaker Tim Burton made inaugural appearances. Paul Frank’s Julius and Burton’s B. joined fan favorites like Snoopy and Spider-Man. The parade also featured an elf balloon designed by Queens resident Keith Lapinig, who won a nationwide contest.