The Aiken Hounds will be holding its annual Thanksgiving tradition shared by generations of families in Aiken.Once again the magic of the Blessing of the Hounds, Stirrup Cup and Opening Meet at the Memorial Gate in Hitchcock Woods on Thanksgiving Day captures the spirit and imagination of the holiday season, in a charming fashion endemic to a city renowned for its enthusiasm and generosity.The ceremony will start Thursday at 11 a.m. and will be officiated by Father Garrett Clanton of All Saints Anglican Church. The ceremony will take about 30 minutes.The Aiken Hounds are the oldest recognized drag hunt in North America and have a rich history associated with the sport of fox hunting, dating back to 1914.Opening Meet will feature two new members of the Aiken Hounds staff; Ria Burton and Danielle Sertick will now be whippers-in for the hunt, said Linda Knox McLean, Aiken Hounds Master of Hounds. Several members of the Aiken Hounds will also receive their colors."We need some younger people on staff," said Knox McLean. "They're really great riders. They'll be a great support team for Katherine (Gunter, Aiken Hounds Huntsman). They'll be able to keep up with Katherine and the Hounds."Jane Page Thompson and Karen Dempsey will be serving the stirrup cup, said Knox McLean."We've had a really strong start to our hunt season," she said.Vehicles will not be permitted beyond the intersection of Laurens Street and South Boundary Avenue. Those wishing to attend the Blessing of the Hounds, Opening Meet and Stirrup Cup, will have a six-tenths of a mile walk from the entrance of Hitchcock Woods on Laurens Street to the Memorial Gate.Dogs are not permitted at the ceremony as they may be a distraction to the Hounds, and smoking in Hitchcock Woods is prohibited.For more information about the event, call 642-0528 or 643-3724.Contact Ben Baugh at