Tight security as spectators enjoy annual Macy's parade

AP
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began yesterday with balloons and bands as police went all-out to maintain safety in a year marked by attacks on outdoor gatherings.
AP
Reuters

The Ice Age’s Scrat and his acorn and the Ronald McDonald balloons make their way down 6th Avenue during the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan yesterday.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began yesterday with soaring balloons and high-stepping bands as police went all-out to maintain safety in a year marked by attacks on outdoor gatherings.

With new faces and old favorites in the lineup, the extravaganza began winding its way through Manhattan on a chilly morning.

Timothy McMillian joined his wife, their 9-year-old daughter and his in-laws at 6:30am to stake out a spot. 

The relatives came from Greensboro, North Carolina, to see in person the balloons, marching bands, performers from Broadway hits and elaborate floats they’d watched on TV for years.

McMillian, a 45-year-old schoolteacher, booked a hotel months ago, but began to have concerns about security when a truck attack on a bike path near the World Trade Center killed eight people on Halloween.

“With the event being out in the open like this, we were concerned,” he said. “But we knew security would be ramped up today, and we have full confidence in the NYPD.”

Authorities said there was no confirmation of a credible threat to the parade, but they were taking no chances after both the truck attack and an October shooting that killed 58 people at a Las Vegas country music festival.

“Every year, the NYPD has done more to keep this event tonight and the parade itself safer,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told crowds gathered to watch the balloons being inflated on Wednesday. “Because we understand we are dealing with a very challenging world. And so the amount of resources and personnel we put in has increased each year to make us safer.”

New York Police Department officers with assault weapons and portable radiation detectors were circulating among the crowds, sharpshooters were on rooftops and sand-filled city sanitation trucks were poised as imposing barriers to traffic at every cross street.

The mayor and police officials have repeatedly stressed that visitors shouldn’t be deterred. But they asked spectators to be alert.

Police officers were escorting each of the giant balloons to help monitor wind speeds and ensure the characters don’t waft off course.

In 2005, a balloon caught an unexpected gust of wind and struck a lamppost in Times Square, injuring two people. Since then, the parade has been accident-free.

New balloons at the 91st annual parade featured Olaf from the Disney movie “Frozen” and Chase from the TV cartoon “Paw Patrol,” along with a new version of the Grinch of Dr Seuss fame.

Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Fallon and Wyclef Jean were among the stars celebrating.


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