"Are you saying a woman's place is in the kitchen? Oh man, he'll be living with me in a week," joked his son Scott, 41, of Audubon, Montgomery County.
For more than 90 years, Philadelphia has played host to a Thanksgiving Day parade - through wars, cultural shifts, and numerous name changes. Now called the 6ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, it is the nation's longest-running parade of its kind, according to organizers.
Gimbels department store, which launched the parade in 1920, might be gone, but every Thanksgiving morning, tens of thousands still descend on Center City to stand along the parade route to watch marching bands from distant states, helium-filled cartoon characters, and visiting celebrities – this year Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard joined two American Idol contestants on the floats.
In a digital age when entertainment is increasingly viewed in 30-second increments, the three-hour parade might seem an outdated tradition. Watching it requires enduring crowds, traffic jams, long lines for a cup of coffee, and sometimes frigid conditions, though this year, the weather felt more like September.
Whatever the challenge, year after year, people find themselves drawn to the parade, often for no other reason than it is something to do before they watch football and eat too much turkey.
Jeff Marshall, 34, hopped a train in Alden with his 18-month-old daughter, London, and 3-year-old daughter, Morgan, to get to Logan Square before the parade started at 9 a.m.
The trio sat huddled atop a newspaper vending box, with London mesmerized by the passing floats and asking, "Where's Mickey?"
"For me the fun is they're having fun," Marshall said.
Over the years, there have been changes, some of which rubbed traditionalists the wrong way.
The parade route now runs in the opposite direction along the Parkway, ending at the Philadelphia Museum of Art instead of near City Hall. Cheerleaders dance to house music, not jazz standards. And the balloons have morphed from Dr. Seuss characters to dinosaurs and Sid the Science Kid, though for now, Bugs Bunny still has his spot.
But some things remain as they were in the 1920s.
Husbands complain, children are cold, and everyone is still wondering how you get the job holding a balloon.
Cody Shopa, 22, was chaperoning his girlfriend's visiting nephews from Sweden, who were seasoned hands at Thanksgiving through their American mother.
"My girlfriend needed me to drive," he said with a shrug.
But he whooped when the dinosaur balloon came by, encouraged the boys to high-five passing cheerleaders, and nodded when one of the children from Sweden, 8-year-old Patrick Gruneus, said solemnly, "It's really one of my favorite holidays."
As the parade wound down Thursday morning, conversation in the crowds turned to when Santa Claus would make his appearance, signaling the end of one holiday season and the beginning of another.
"Can't they let Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving?" lamented Karen Close, 49, of Phoenixville.
Back behind the parade route, Mike Neary and his son John, 10, got ready to head home. They had been outside since before sunrise, waiting to march in the parade with local Cub Scouts.
They watched the balloons get blown up and the marching bands warm up in the still-dark streets.
"I had a blast," Neary said. "Everyone's in a great mood and waving at you."
Contact James Osborne at 856-779-3876, email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @osborneja.