Home for the holidays

PHOTO: McKalyn Crabtree, 6, right, and her aunt Suzanne Minga greet Alan Minga as he and other Northwest flight passengers arrive Wednesday afternoon at the Tupelo Regional Airport. (C. Todd Sherman)

BY DANZA JOHNSON

Daily Journal

TUPELO – When he turns the page of his calendar and sees the word November in big, bold letters, Chicago native Josh Pritchard knows it won't be long before he's taking in a big helping of Lee County hospitality.

Like many with Mississippi ties, Pritchard, 26, uses the holiday season to visit family and friends in the Magnolia state. And no matter if it's baked, smoked, grilled or deep-fried, Pritchard will be eating his turkey with family and friends in Saltillo this year.

“My uncle lives in Saltillo, and my parents actually moved there about a month ago,” the Windy City native said as he waited at the Tupelo Regional Airport for a ride. “I love coming here. It's so relaxing and I love the hospitality I get when I'm here. I try to come down at least three times a year.”

This Thanksgiving holiday, more than 37 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles, a slight increase from the year before, according to AAA.

Higher ticket prices

About 4.5 million of those traveling will take an airplane, AAA predicts, despite higher ticket prices. Domestic airfares are about 12 percent higher that last year, according to Amy Ziff, editor-at-large at online travel agency Tavelocity.

After living in Washington, D.C., for the past year, Tupelo native Ariel Owens definitely knows how Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” felt when she chanted “there's no place like home.” Owens, 26, works as a legislative aid for Roger Wicker.

“Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday,” Owens said. “I miss being at home, so I'm just glad I can spend my holiday in Tupelo.”

Josh Westmoreland lives in Tupelo, but his job requires him to travel. Wednesday, he arrived home after a trip to Greensboro, N.C.

“I feel sorry for people who have to travel for the rest of the day,” Westmoreland said, shaking his head in empathy. “I've been through long line after long line this morning trying to get back home. I'm just glad I made it back for the holidays.”

Not everyone was trying to get into Lee County. Terri Moss and her two children Shane, 7, and Kimberly, 5, were catching a plane to Dallas to visit the childrens' grandmother.

“She usually comes here, but this year we decided to take the holidays to her,” said Moss. “It's always hard to travel during the holiday season because of all the people trying to go somewhere, but we'll just have to battle the crowds.”

Contact Danza Johnson at 678-1583 or e-mail danza.johnson@djournal.com