NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Tens of thousands of people from the Tri-State Area celebrated the 65th anniversary of the creation of Israel Sunday, at a parade down Fifth Avenue that had some of the tightest security measures ever seen.
As CBS 2 Political reporter Marcia Kramer reported, spirits were high on Fifth Avenue at the 2013 Celebrate Israel Parade. Thousands of children were among the 35,000 marchers who took part, and, 17 bands and 30 floats marched up Fifth Avenue for the annual parade, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
More than a million flag-waving spectators lined the parade route, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
“Everyone feels so connected. Nobody even knows each other really but everyone just feels united and connected,” one woman told Schuck.
“We love Israel!” some paradegoers shouted.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the mayoral hopefuls were all on hand for the celebration of Israel.
But while excitement prevailed among the crowd, concerns about avoiding a possible terrorist attack were heavy on the minds of city officials. Security at the parade was intense, with the NYPD taking no chances of anything happening.
“We’re always changing our approach, but I think we would say that the Boston Marathon bombing has had an effect on what we do, and it’s only common sense to do that, so we brought more resources into play,” said police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The NYPD put in place an amazing array of security initiatives, including police helicopters with special sensors to detect radiation on the ground, a counterterrorism car with a 360-degree camera to search for suspicious packages, and bomb-sniffing dogs all along the route to check for explosives on parade watchers.
Video cameras mounted in the NYPD’s Eyes in the Sky were used to send a continuous feed to the Security Coordination Center.
And a new double-barricade system was also in place, with an extra lane on each side of the street between participants and spectators. The new chasm made it nearly impossible for politicians to do the grab-hands act with paradegoers.
There were also a lot of extra police officers, in uniform and plain clothes.
“We live in a dangerous world,” Bloomberg said at the parade. “Sadly, there have been some tragedies, whether Sandy Hook or London, where people are getting killed. There are other people who aren’t happy with the way the world’s changing; don’t want to let you have your rights. We’re just going to provide the kind of security we need.”
Those taking part in the parade said they were not concerned about security or protesters.
“We here in New York, whether we’re Jewish, whether we’re not Jewish, identify with Israel. It’s in our spirit, it’s in our soul. And it’s so important for us to broadcast the message not only to the world that we stand with Israel, but to Israel that we stand with Israel,” Jewish Community Relations Council president Michael Miller told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “We broadcast this on the web, I have grandchildren who watch it.”
“We come out strong every year, we build every year generations and generations. I just saw the Jewish war veterans, we’re seeing all the day schools and all the high schools and the temple’s kids and we’re bringing out parents, our kids,” Haina Just-Michael with the White Plains-based Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center told Miller. “Without a thought, we’re here to represent Israel.”
Candidates On The March
After 12 years in office, this was Mayor Bloomberg’s last Celebrate Israel Parade. But there was no shortage of people who want the job in attendance – both at the parade and at an earlier breakfast sponsored by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
The candidates emphasized the significance of the Jewish vote.
“The Jewish vote is very important,” said Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis. “I’ve lit the menorah on Central Park South for 25 years, so I’m not a Johnny-come-lately Jew.”
Added fellow Republican candidate Joe Lhota: “The Jewish community is very important. They all come out to vote. They all make their voices known. They’re an engaged community.”
On the Democratic side, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and former city Comptroller William Thompson were in attendance. For the most part, they were content to march down Fifth Avenue – but not so for recently-declared Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.
Weiner dashed from one side of the street to the other and posed for pictures, and despite the double barricades that kept people at bay, he tried to engage voters along the route.
While he had some supporters in the crowd, another person accused Weiner of “making a mockery of this parade.”
A new CBS 2/Rasmussen poll match-up between frontrunners Democrat Quinn and Republican Lhota shows Quinn far ahead, with 49 percent of voters backing her, compared to 27 percent favoring the former MTA chief.
“Whoever wins the Democratic primary is very likely to be the next mayor of New York City,” Scott Rasmussen said.
But the early polls aren’t stopping the other contenders from trying use the festivities to attempt to drum up support, using the crowd and the influential guests to their advantage.
This year’s parade theme was “Picture Israel,” celebrating the diversity of the state of Israel, Schuck reported. Participants were asked to bring paintings, collages or any pictures showing Israel or their experience there, Schuck reported.
The festivities kicked off with a Celebrate Israel Run through Central Park earlier Sunday morning. Israel’s national soccer team was set to face off against the team from Honduras at Citi Field at 5:30 Sunday evening.
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