Thanksgiving with the Cowboys, Salvation Army

Happy Black Friday, folks.

I’m at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, staying at a four-star Hyatt Regency Hotel that I booked online for $50 a night.

(God bless Priceline.com)

I’ve been in the greater Dallas area since Thanksgiving Eve working on a story about the Salvation Army-Dallas Cowboys partnership.

The nut graph of the story is this: Since 1997, the Cowboys have used their half-time show to promote the Salvation Army during their nationally-televised game, giving the charity tens of millions of dollars worth of free national publicity.

The national Red Kettle Kickoff features A-list performers and plenty of razzle dazzle — Cowboy cheerleaders pom poms and a pile of pyrotechnics.

This year, country music star Keith Urban performed.

Jerry Jones, the team’s owner, puts his heart and soul into promoting the Salvation Army, and red Army kettles are stationed at pretty much every stadium entrance.

In 2008, the last year at the old Texas Stadium in Irving, the kettles brought in $14,500. In 2009, the first year at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, the bell ringers collected $20,500.

No word, yet, on how much was raised on Thanksgiving Day 2010, but I’ll pass along the totals if I get them.

Before the game, Jones eats Thanksgiving dinner with the Salvationists, then invites them to watch the game from the owner’s suite. On Thanksgiving 2010, Mr. Jones and his gracious daughter, team executive vice president Charlotte Anderson, invited me to be their luncheon guest as well.

And what a Thanksgiving it was.

Jerry Jones and I have at least a couple of things in common, I learned during our interview. He is the descendant of Arkansans who were forced by the Great Depression to leave the state and head for California. So am I.

And, like Mr. Jones, I consider it a blessing that I was able to eventually move back to Arkansas.

Updated: November 26, 2010 — 5:07 am

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