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5 Strange and Colorful Local Thanksgiving Traditions

turkey in a pilgrim hat

The holidays can bring out people’s stranger sides, and Thanksgiving is no exception.

It might be all of the time spent in such close proximity to relatives, maybe the overindulgence of food, but whatever the reasons might be, you can find plenty of strange and colorful local Thanksgiving traditions spread throughout this great nation of ours. Here’s a sampling of some of the most enjoyable, and oddest, examples:

The Frozen Turkey Scavenger Hunt

In Boothbay, Maine, getting hold of a bird for your Thanksgiving Day meal has turned into a sport. If you want to get your hands on a free turkey, you need to show up and take part in Boothbay’s Frozen Turkey Scavenger Hunt. Would-be turkey hunters (no camouflage necessary) descend upon the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and search frantically, hoping to bag a frozen turkey. Well, not exactly. Actually, the foragers hunt for apples, and if they find one with the right sticker attached, it can be turned in for a frozen turkey, or another prize.

Blessing of the Hounds

Around Thanksgiving, in Aiken, South Carolina, the community comes together for the “Blessing of the Hounds.” This foxhunting-inspired tradition stretches back to Belgium, hundreds of years ago, and the Feast of Saint Hubert. The Aiken Hunt Club keeps this ancient custom alive at the Memorial Gate in the Hitchcock Woods. The hunt is a “drag hunt,” which means no foxes are actually killed during the chase. That should lighten the hearts of all animal lovers, even though this event takes place during one of the worst times of the year for turkeys.

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Chicago’s Turkey-Testicle-Eating Contest

We’re not sure how much explaining you want us to do with this one. The name “Chicago’s Turkey Testicle Eating Contest” really says it all. If you show up at Timothy O’Toole’s in Chicago, you can chow down on all of the turkey testicles your twisted heart could possibly desire. If turkey testicles aren’t your culinary thing, you can opt for the pie-eating contest instead. There’s just no accounting for taste.

Turkey Trots

Turkey trot fun runs are held all over the country. The trick is to take part in one of these community events before diving into a big Thanksgiving Day meal. Buffalo, Cincinnati, Concord, Dallas and a host of other towns and cities put on turkey trots annually. Some of these “trots” come on Turkey Day, while other fun runs happen a week or two before, in order to raise money for charities that often help families in need put food on the table.

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Shooting Paper Turkeys for Vets

Just north of Las Vegas, you’ll find the Clark County Shooting Range, which puts on a “humanitarian” turkey-shooting event every year a few weeks before Thanksgiving. You don’t get to shoot at real turkeys, but that’s all right. Kids and adults alike get to grab guns, as well as bows and arrows, and shoot at paper-turkey targets. Thanksgiving-related prizes are handed out to the best shots, with the proceeds of the “turkey shoot” going to homeless military vets. And just so you know that this is Las Vegas were talking about here, preferred parking is reserved for Corvettes only.

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