NEW YORK -- Revelers at this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade gave thanks for the giant balloons that flew above the city streets Thursday after a blustery storm accompanied by high winds nearly grounded them for only the second time in the parade's 87-year history.
"The balloons are the best part," 11-year-old Matthew Ragbe said as he watched them leave their launch pads on 77th Street and turn the corner to face the crowds of parade-goers, many of whom waited hours to secure a good viewing spot.
Across the country, millions of Americans celebrated their blessings, gobbled up turkey and pumpkin pie and prepared to kick off the official start to the Christmas shopping season. In Detroit, former Tigers manager Jim Leyland served as grand marshal of the city's parade -- which is billed as the nation's second largest, behind New York City's -- while Philadelphia celebrations were subdued slightly by gusting winds that limited the use of balloons.
In Washington, President Barack Obama and family celebrated a quiet holiday at the White House. The menu was quintessential Thanksgiving, including turkey, honey-baked ham, cornbread stuffing, greens and six choices of pie. He also called several members of the armed forces to thank them for their service to the country.
Comet's survival doubted
Once billed as the comet of the century, Comet ISON apparently was no match for the sun.
Scientists said images from NASA spacecraft showed the comet approaching for a slingshot around the sun Thursday, but just a trail of dust coming out on the other end.
"It does seem like Comet ISON probably hasn't survived this journey," U.S. Navy solar researcher Karl Battams said in a Google+ hangout.
Phil Plait, an astronomer who runs the "Bad Astronomy" blog, agreed, saying "I don't think the comet made it."
Still, he said, it wouldn't be all bad news if the 4.5-billion-year-old space rock broke up into pieces, because astronomers might be able to study them and learn more about comets.
Art project home burns
DETROIT -- Another structure in the Heidelberg Project burned Thursday morning, one more in a series of arson fires at the world-renowned art installation.
A security guard at the site saw someone running from the scene of the vacant home, dubbed "The War Room," but no arrests have been made.
Heidelberg Project spokeswoman Katie Hearn said the structure was next to the charred remains of the House of Soul, a building covered with vinyl LPs that was destroyed by fire Nov. 12. She said it wasn't part of the seven original anchor structures, but is part of the art installation.
The last fire a week ago destroyed the Penny House. Deemed arson, the blaze led the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI to join the investigation. A fire destroyed the Obstruction of Justice house, known as the OJ House, Oct. 5, according to the group.
Artist Tyree Guyton created the Heidelberg Project in 1986, slowly decorating abandoned homes with colorful designs and found objects.
Calif. gunman in custody
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- A gunman who fired several shots at two police officers -- hitting one -- and held two people hostage for nearly nine hours was booked Thursday on suspicion of attempted murder.
Christopher Warsaw, 45, was being held on $1 million bail, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Guillermina Saldana. He was arrested late Wednesday after engaging police in a standoff after taking his girlfriend and her 14-year-old daughter hostage.
The worst injury occurred when an Inglewood policeman was shot in his bulletproof vest. He was in good condition, but "in a lot of pain," police Capt. James D. Madia said.
Manhunt ends in arrest
WICHITA, Kan. -- An arrest late Tuesday ended a daylong manhunt for the man sought in the deaths of a mother and her three young children
An Independence, Kan., police officer found David Cornell Bennett Jr., 22, wanted in the deaths of Cami Umbarger, 29, of Parsons, Kan., and her children -- Hollie, 9; Jaxon, 6; and Averie, 4 -- walking along a street. Within moments, Mr. Bennett was taken into custody at gunpoint.
The bodies were found Monday after concerned workers called police when Ms. Umbarger did not show up for work. Authorities have not said how the four died. Police Chief Harry E. Smith said Wednesday he understood their involvement to be "a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship."
-- Compiled from news services