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Thanksgiving Day Jamborees

It was a unique and fun way to share
the Thanksgiving holidays with
some very special people.

On Thursday, November 23, 1960, WPIX TV Channel 11 in NYC began a tradition that lasted into the 1970's. For ten years, Officer / Police Chief Joe Bolton, Captain Jack McCarthy and Ms. Carol Corbett hosted 'The Thanksgiving Day Jamborees.'

Set against the backdrop of the living room of a private home, Officer Joe and Captain Jack would engage a group of kids from St. Barnabas House (a foster home in Lower Manhattan) and their viewers in games, songs, stories, craftmaking, hobbies and informational segments between reruns of old movie and TV cartoons, film comedies, 'The Adventures Of Superman,' 'Casey Jones', 'Fury,' etc.


Captain Jack McCarthyAt the end of the show, Officer Joe and Captain Jack would sit down and have Thanksgiving dinner along with the kids at home. As Capt. Jack told me in a December, 1983 interview, Ch. 11 aired 'The Thanksgiving Day Jamborees' again on Thursday, November 23, 1961 and on Thursday, November 22. 1962.

The traditional Thanksgiving show was pre-empted in November, 1963 due to President John F. Kennedy's assasination. The show was pre-empted again in November, 1964 for reasons that are still unknown, but WPIX 11 aired 'The Thanksgiving Day Jamboree' again on Thursday, November 25, 1965 with Carol Corbett serving as Officer Joe's co-host on the show.

Ms. Corbett's presence added warmth and charm to the proceedings. She also ultilized her puppetry and drawings talents as she performed skits with her puppets "Doodle E Do" the Dog Puppet and "Schnieder," the spider puppet. She would also encourage the kids in the studio and at home to draw along with her and conducted "Chalk Talks" (drawing pictures to help illustrate her stories).

Officer Joe and Ms. Corbett returned to host 'The Thanksgiving Day Jamboree' on Thursday, November 25, 1965; Thursday, November 24, 1966; Thursday, November 23, 1967 and on Thursday, November 28, 1968.

Station execs decided not to air 'The Thanksgiving Day Jamboree' in 1969 - instead they broadcast the second annual 'Fun & Games Day Special' on Sunday, November 30, 1969. WPIX had aired the first 'Fun & Games Day Special' on Sunday, February 2, 1969.


Officer Joe and Captain Jack hosted this eight hour marathon with kids in the studio audience playing board games provided by the show's sponsor The Ideal Toy Co. The goal for the kids was to win a treasure chest stuffed with Ideal toys and games. Officer Joe and Captain Jack also picked names from a barrel full of mailed in entries so that lucky kids at home who could win Ideal toys.

The two seasoned TV performers would also introduce reruns of movie & TV cartoons, Three Stooges & Little Rascals film comedies and reruns of 'The Abbott & Costello,' Superman,' 'Mack & Myer For Hire' TV shows and Gumby and Capt. Scarlett TV Puppet films.

Bob McAllisterBob McAllister hosted the third and last 'Fun & Games Day Special' on Monday, February 23, 1970.

WPIX Ch. 11 revived 'The Thanksgiving Day Jamboree' in November, 1970. Officer Joe and Captain Jack entertained and informed their party guests (in the studio and at home) while introducing the usual films for one last time.

Thanksgiving TV shows

Thanksgiving TV Shows


WNEW also aired their own Thanksgiving Day kid's TV specials. On Thursday morning, November 26. 1959, Sonny Fox hosted 'The First Annual Wonderama Thanksgiving Day Party.' Sonny engaged the kids in the studio and at home in craftmaking, hobbies, informational segments, games, and interviews with guest performers between the reruns of old movie cartoons and comedies.

Sonny Fox hosted another 'Wonderama Thanksgiving Day Party' on Ch. 5 on Thursday afternoon, November 23, 1961. Sonny and his guests ventriloquist/entertainer and cartoon voice-over performer Paul Winchell, magician/escape artist and magic historian The Amazing James Randi and folk singer Pat Woodell entertained the kids in the studio audience and at home - along with reruns of the usual movie and TV cartoons.

WNEW aired 'The Sandy Becker /Chuck McCann Thanksgiving Day Special' on Thursday afternoon, November 25, 1965. Sandy Becker and Chuck McCann performed character comedy and puppet skits and engaged viewers in informational segments, drawing lessons, craftmaking, hobbies, contests and reruns of old movie and TV cartoons.

1980 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Officer Joe Bolton

Thanksgiving TV Shows / Thanksgiving Day Parade TV History / Thanksgiving TV Cartoon Specials of the 1970s /WPIX Thanksgiving Day TV Specials / Christmas Specials


Captain Jack McCarthyAnyone know the answer?
"When Jack McCarthy hosted the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade broadcast back in the 1950's and 1960's , he always told the story of a little boy who'd go into church and say, "Here I am..." . Any information about the story or where it came from would be most appreciated! Thank you. John J. Vanderpool"

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