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Sandy victims cheered by NYC's Thanksgiving parade

Thursday - 11/22/2012, 4:43pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast have been drawing comfort today from kinder weather, free holiday meals and -- for some -- front row seats to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

One woman from a hard-hit neighborhood in Queens says the special viewing section for those displaced by the storm meant a lot. Karen Panetta says she and her family were thankful to be there together and "to feel like life's a little normal today."

More than 3 million people attended the popular Macy's parade, while an estimated 50 million watched on TV. Highlights included giant balloons in the likeness of Papa Smurf, Buzz Lightyear, Elf on a Shelf and Charlie Brown. Real-life stars included singer Carly Rae Jepsen.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised police, firefighters, armed services personnel, sanitation workers and volunteers involved in the storm response. His office was coordinating the distribution of more than 26,000 meals at 30 sites in neighborhoods affected by Sandy.

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193-w-33-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent, with Karen and Ryan Panetta, Broad Channel residents affected by Superstorm Sandy)--Families affected by Superstorm Sandy got prime seats to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to help lift their spirits. AP correspondent Julie Walker caught up with one family along the parade route. (22 Nov 2012)

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183-w-30-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent, with unidentified children at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade)--Crowds turned out in New York this morning for the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the AP's Julie Walker was there to catch the excitement.((opens with music)) (22 Nov 2012)

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195-a-09-(Christine James, Rockaways resident affected by Superstorm Sandy, at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in AP interview)-"day with him"-Christine James of the Rockaways brought her 6-year old son Christopher to the parade. She says it was the perfect pick-me-up during a very difficult time. (22 Nov 2012)

<> 00:09 "day with him"

194-a-05-(Zulma Miranda, Coney Island resident affected by the Superstorm Sandy, at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in AP interview)-"take that away"-Zulma Miranda, a Coney Island resident who suffered through Superstorm Sandy, says the parade helped raise her spirits. (22 Nov 2012)

<> 00:05 "take that away"

196-a-10-(MaryBeth Miles, clown, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in AP interview)-"happy! Happy Thanksgiving"-MaryBeth Miles, who was a clown in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, says she loves the event and she loves the holiday. (22 Nov 2012)

<> 00:10 "happy! Happy Thanksgiving"

197-a-07-(Patricia Nismith, clown, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in AP interview)-"a great time"-Patricia Nismith, who was a clown in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, says it was a perfect day all around for everyone. (22 Nov 2012)

<> 00:07 "a great time"

198-r-25-(Sound of the New York City Police Department marching band at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing "New York, New York")--Sound of New York City Police Department marching band at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade performing "New York, New York." (22 Nov 2012)

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184-r-30-(Sound of Father Ryan High School marching band, in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade)--Sound of Father Ryan High School marching band in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (22 Nov 2012)

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GRAPHICSBANK: "Spiderman" balloon during the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade, New York City, on texture, partial graphic (22 Nov 2012)

APPHOTO INVL: IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SABAN BRANDS - Paul Frank's Julius balloon gets ready for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday Nov. 22, 2012, in New York.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.