NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than 1.6 million people are expected to attend this weekend’s Gay Pride Parade and the NYPD is stepping up security for the event in wake of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, the NYPD and parade organizers detailed their plans Thursday. There will be thousands of officers on land, in the air and on the water.
The NYPD said last year, more than 1.6 million people came out for the Pride March, and a lot more are expected this year. More than 20,000 participants, 85 floats, bands, and 200 motorcycles are expecte in the parade.
And more than ever, the NYPD is encouraging people to come out and celebrate.
“Come on down – gay or straight, come on down,” said police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “It’s one of New York’s great, great attractions and great, great events, and it will be safe.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also assured New Yorkers the parade would be protected.
“I want everyone to know, whether it’s New Yorkers or folks coming from anywhere in the world to be a part of this powerful moment, you will be safe, you will be protected,” de Blasio said, stressing there is no specific threat to the parade.
With close to 2 million spectators expected, the NYPD said it will have thousands of uniformed and plainclothes officers, radiation detective devices, and explosive detection dogs on the route.
“We have greatly increased our counterterrorism efforts to act as a visible deterrent as well as quick response capability,” NYPD Chief of Patrol Carlos Gomez said. “There will be thousands of uniform officers assigned along the route and the surrounding areas. Those are officers that you will see.”
Police will also monitor a network of cameras, and will have harbor vessels out as well as helicopter patrols from above.
“We will have our aviation helicopters monitor rooftops; monitor crowd sizes; traffic,” Gomez said.
The NYPD has also debuted themed police cars, detailed in rainbow and displaying messages of solidarity with the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
The parade begins at noon on Sunday. The route starts at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue, and ends at Greenwich and Christopher streets.
In the wake of the Orlando
Greenwich Village Resident Alex Urbelis said there is some hesitation in his house this year about going to the parade.
“It is a point of debate between my wife and me,” Urbelis said. “We have concerns about it but I don’t think those concerns should really stop anybody. It’s a platitude to say but that’s how the terrorists win.”
And since Orlando, the NYPD has stepped up its presence in Greenwich Village, including outside the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center at 208 W. 13th St.
But most people who spoke to CBS2 had no concerns at all about the weekend.
“It’s actually making me want to invite more people to come and be a part,” one woman said.
“Considering everything that happened in Orlando, I want to be out with my partner supporting the community, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Eric Arnold of Harlem, “no concerns about safety.”
Parade organizers said the owner of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando will be on the lead float in the parade. They said they understand if people feel anxious about attending, but encourage them to come.
“The important thing is that we remember those 49 people we lost last weekend and so many other lives that we have we lost, and that we don’t hide,” said parade organizer David Studinski. “The worst thing that we can do as a community is hide. Many of us started in closets, and the last thing that any of us should do is go back into them.”
Because of the large crowds expected this weekend, the NYPD is urging people to use public transportation this weekend, and will be adding additional transit officers. They stress there is no specific threat to the parade, and want people to enjoy themselves
Since then, many residents in Greenwich Village say they’ve appreciated the increased NYPD presence in the neighborhood, like outside the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.
“I work at night and I see them out here all night. [So you feel pretty confident?] Yes I do. I’m glad to see them,” resident Judith Newman said.
Sunday’s march will come exactly two weeks after the Pulse nightclub shooting.