Thanksgiving is upon us, and many Miamians are wondering the same thing: What exactly should we be thankful for this past year? The Magic City was battered by three damaging hurricanes. Katrina ripped down trees, Rita littered our streets with debris, and Wilma's winds sliced through electricity poles like a hot knife through gelled cranberry sauce. But compared to the devastating damage along the Gulf Coast, South Florida emerged from hurricane season relatively unscathed. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we offer a list of places to go and things to be grateful for before we inhale that pumpkin pie.
Be thankful you're not cooking Thanksgiving dinner by candlelight. Florida Power & Light worked hard to keep up its end of the bargain, so just about everyone can bask in the glow of electric light once again. But why spend your Turkey Day slaving over a hot stove? On Thursday, November 24, treat yourself to the finest cuisine, and toast to an eventful year. There's no better place to do it than the Ritz. Go to the Ritz-Carlton South Beach (1 Lincoln Rd.; 786-276-1144) for a ridiculous champagne brunch and a live jazz trio. The meal will set you back $75. Stuff your face from noon to 3:30 p.m. For a traditional feast, visit Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove (2700 Tigertail Ave.; 305-644-4675). Offerings include roast turkey with candied yams and oyster cornbread stuffing, and prime rib with horseradish cream and chestnut mash, for an affordable $48 per person. If your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is pie, check out the entire room of desserts at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne (455 Grand Bay Dr.; 305-365-4286). Sweets range from traditional pies to more exotic delights like hazelnut pot de crme and chocolate savarin with roasted winter fruit. Brunch is from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. and costs $72. Learn about all of these Ritz-y offerings at www.ritz-carlton.com.
It might be damaged, but be thankful you have a roof over your head. Thanksgiving is a time for home and family, but many locals don't have either of those things. Share kindness and nonperishable food items with the less fortunate. The good folks at the Community Partnership for the Homeless won't turn away volunteers today. Come ready to serve food at or bring donations to the Chapman Center (1150 N. Miami Ave., Miami) or the South Miami-Dade Center (28205 SW 125th Ave., Homestead). Call 305-329-3030, or visit www.cphi.org.
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Be thankful for all the amazing bargains available the day after Thanksgiving. Wake up while it's still dark out Friday, November 25, and take advantage of the great Black Friday sales. For ideas about where to go and what to buy, visit www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com for a glimpse of the offerings at nationwide chains like Toys R Us, Kmart, Costco, Sears, and Best Buy. Or even better, purchase something handmade at the weekend-long Holiday Isle Arts and Crafts Festival (mile marker 84, Islamorada) for an incredible range of one-of-a-kind products made by local artisans. Call 305-664-2321, or visit www.fla-keys.com.