More than a few protest groups will be pleased to know that this will be the first Thanksgiving in forty-two years to go without the annual crowning of the Thanksgiving Baby.
Long-time residents of the city may have enjoyed watching the annual protests as much as the crowning. At last count, more than fifty groups over the event’s lifetime had lodged official complaints with the city, sponsored activist campaigns against the entire concept of the Thanksgiving Baby and actively protested the event in the streets.
Begun in 1965 by local pediatrician Casper Moore, the event of “crowning” a baby declared by a select judging panel as being “the city’s healthiest” was part of Dr.Moore’s long-term plan to weave pediatric health awareness inexorably into the fabric of a prominent American holiday.
The first controversy erupted in 1969, when the “crowning” event – which traditionally opened the Thanksgiving Day Parade festivities in the Central Corridor and Downtown – was marred with claims of racial intolerance. It was revealed that one of the event’s six judges – Dr.Moore’s cousin and grocery store chain owner Roger Costello – had steadfastly prohibited the inclusion of any child of African-American descent.
His reasoning was that “potential complications from the curse of sickle cell anemia and the exaggerated fatality rates of urban (black) men” prevented him from, in good faith, choosing a black infant for the award. Seven civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, protested the event that year and many years following, even after the election of an African-American infant in 1975.
Since the majority of the Thanksgiving Babies to date have been under one year of age, several children’s health experts have objected to the tradition of the “Thanksgiving Feast” – which includes many solids, such as turkey breast, accompanied by a large cup of cooled coffee – presented to the Baby at the start of festivities. Although the removal of coffee and the transition to pureed turkey breast has quelled many doctors’ complaints, PETA continues to object.
Child labor organizations have protested what they believe to be the ceremony’s breach of child labor laws, metalworkers’ unions have protested what they believe was “non-union” labor involved in the casting of the Thanksgiving Baby Crown, Native American groups have protested the celebration of European colonialism and a half-dozen other types of organizations have made their feelings known every year since the event’s inception.
In a 2001 television broadcast, news anchor Heather Guisewite commented that it was “impossible to hear the name of the winner, for all the chanting.”
Lampooning the protestability of the event, fake “activist organizations” have, over the last ten years, increasingly participated in the condemnation of the event. “The National Association for the Advancement of Former Thanksgiving Babies,” the “Thanksgiving Baby Liberation Army,” “The Justice League of America” and more than a dozen other student-led prank protest groups have made management of the event a greater nightmare than Dr.Moore had ever anticipated.
Citing the innumerable protest activities, Dr.Moore capitulated, and turning eighty-five this year he chose to disband the organization and event once and for all. The retired medical professional explained “You can’t hardly get to the stage for all the picketers.”
“I just wanted to help people raise healthier babies,” added Dr.Moore, “Where did I go wrong?”
- Jon Morris