Racetrack brings out crazy hats for Thanksgiving

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Thanksgiving feast took a backseat for thousands of people who flock to the track every year to kick off the holidays.

"This is my family tradition, every thanksgiving, we all get dressed up," said Allisyn Swift. "My family is with me and we come out here to the races it's how we start the day and then I sneak off and take the turducken out of the oven."

While the races might be the main event, many people come to the track to see the interesting headwear, often homemade, like little Connor Roman, who created a camping hat out of leaves and sticks.

"[It's got] a sleeping bag, a house, a fire and all the other stuff that I have on here too," Roman said.

While the horses race, there's plenty of food to try at the track, keeping the tradition of eating heartily alive on Thanksgiving.

"There is really good food, good drinks, good fellowship, lots to look at," Desiree Bell, who was wearing a 'Queen of Hearts' hat, said.

"I love coming out every year and providing it to people, feels really good to cook good food and know everyone around is enjoying it," Nick Johnson, who was cooking food for the fans, said.

That's why so many people enjoy spending their Thanksgiving mornings at the track and pushing the big meal back a little later.

"I would say bring your family to the track and then go eat later, it's all done by 3:30, 4:00 (p.m.) I don't want to eat that early," Courtney Bayer, who made her own hat, said.

Shannon Gradnohl came to track to continue a ritual for her father.

"My father used to come out here, it's a tradition for my father and he passed away in February and I wanted to come out here and spend a little time," Gradnohl said, just moments after her horse took a win.

"He was looking and that was his number, number four, he was pulling it in!" Gradnohl exclaimed.

That's exactly why the track is such a special place for so many people during the Holiday season, a little extra cash in the pocket, good food, and great friends, all reasons to be thankful.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.