Kentucky prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, parks offer meal

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As we take time out of our schedule this week to enjoy the kick-off to the holiday season, I want to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

We are now just one decade away from the 400th anniversary of that famous feast enjoyed by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans who helped them weather especially tough times.

Though that harvest meal is the foundation for the holiday, it didn’t settle into its familiar place on the calendar until nearly 150 years ago, when President Lincoln declared it should be held on the last Thursday of November.

In Kentucky, as in many other places, the date goes back even earlier. 

Gov. Robert Letcher made the first official recognition on Sept. 26, 1844.

While turkey is now the centerpiece of the dinner table on Thanksgiving, it might not have been if Benjamin Franklin had had his way.

He wanted that bird, and not the eagle, to serve as our national symbol.

He called the turkey “a bird of courage.”

As a nation, we have a lot for which to be thankful, and a big reason for that is because we don’t hesitate to help when it’s needed. 

Charitable giving was up last year across the county despite the tough economy, and here in Kentucky, a study a few years ago found that nine out of 10 adults said they had at least one person outside of family on whom they could depend.

For many of us, Thanksgiving is often a time of travel. If you are among the millions who will be driving, please be extra careful. The Transportation Cabinet said that there were more than 1,300 traffic accidents during the holiday last year across the state.

If you do not have plans to cook, but still want a good meal, the state’s 17 resort parks are ready to serve. They will open at noon on Thursday and close by 8 p.m. The price for adults, which includes a beverage but not tax, is $17.95, and for children six to 12, it is $7.95. There is no cost for children five and younger.

In the coming weeks, my legislative colleagues and I will make final preparations to ready for the start of the 2012 Regular Session, which begins Jan. 3 and lasts for 60 legislative days.

As always, your input in this process is very much needed, and I encourage you to let me know your thoughts as legislation moves forward.

Rick Rand, D-Bedford, represents the 47th House District in the Kentucky General Assembly. He may be reached by writing to Room 351C, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601, or leave a message at (800) 372-7181 – TTY (800) 896-0305.