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2,009 people to be thankful for in '09

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but there’s still reason to be grateful in New York City. Here are 2,009 people to give thanks for during this 2009 holiday season:

155: Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, his crew of four and the 150 passengers they saved. Sully safely ditched US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River last January.

87: The 42 children at the Ronald McDonald House in the city who have cancer and got a chance to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, as well as the 45 volunteers who prepared their holiday meal.

1: Sonia Sotomayor, a Bronx native, confirmed in August to be the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

33: The 25 players on the Yankees’ 2009 World Championship team christened their new stadium in style this year. Thanks also to their manager, Joe Girardi, their six coaches and their most visible fan, Kate Hudson.

466: These Department of Sanitation workers swept up the resulting 56.55 tons of confetti and trash after the Yanks’ big ticker-tape parade.
Tom Frieden, the former city health commissioner, was the voice of calm during the swine flu outbreak earlier this year. He was named director of the CDC in May.

1: Jorge Munoz, a Queens school bus driver who spends nearly every night serving hot meals to the homeless and unemployed.

8: At least seven city workers and one Amtrak official who helped to deliver babies in emergency situations on the train, on a bus, in a livery cab and in Penn Station this year.

235: Military personnel from New York state who sacrificed their lives in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 20 so far in 2009.

3: Brave firefighters whom the city lost in the line of duty since last November. They are Lt. Robert Ryan, Firefighter Paul Warhola and Firefighter Jamel Sears.

2: Vada Vasquez, 15, the Bronx girl on her way to recovery after being hit with a stray bullet in the head, for showing such perseverance in the face of tragedy, and her doctor, Narayan Sundaresan, chief neurosurgeon at Lincoln Hospital.

1: Jay Walder, appointed in July as the new CEO and chair of the MTA, whom we hope significantly improves our transit system.

251: Employees at the Central Park Conservancy, who maintain Central Park.
Approximate number of participants in NYC Teaching Fellows who were left without jobs by an August hiring freeze. They kept up hope and have since been hired.

60: Staff members of New York Cares, the city’s largest volunteer group.

1: Long Island teacher Jennifer Mazzotta-Perretti, who donated a kidney to her former student, Kevin O’Brien, after O’Brien wrote an essay asking whether his classmates would give an organ to save a life.

350: Operators at 311, the city’s nonemergency help line.

1: Maria Corti, of Connecticut, who gave up this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

2: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, for the top song “Empire State of Mind,” a Big Apple homage.

Jason Fink and Rolando Pujol contributed to this story.


Turkeys we’re not as thankful for:
* Bernard Madoff, Ponzi king sentenced to 150 years for $65 billion in fraud.
* The New York State Legislature for failing professionally and morally to do right by the Empire State’s citizens.
* Mark Sanchez, disappointing Jets quarterback once hailed as team’s sexy savior.
* Michael and Dina Lohan, publicly feuding parents of an already messed-up Lindsay.
* Bernard Kerik, ex-police commissioner facing jail for conspiracy and fraud.
* State Sen. Hiram Monserrate, a key player in the Albany coup who was acquitted in his girlfriend’s slashing.
* Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs ‘god’ boss slammed for massive banker bonuses.

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