NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Security is expected to be extra tight at this year’s Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade after the deadly Lower Manhattan terror attack last month.
Speaking at a new conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that there will be a “very strong presence” of the NYPD at the parade on Thursday.
“Stronger than ever,” he said, adding that there are no credible threats against the city or the parade.
Three million spectators are expected to line the parade route and while crews are hard at work preparing for the big event, the NYPD is also doubling down to keep revelers secure.
NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said parade goers can expect to see sand trucks, heavy weapons teams, observation teams, K-9s and aviation units. Intersections along the parade route will also be blocked off.
“We’re doing everything to ensure a safe venue,” he said. “So come out and enjoy the day, but if you see something, say something.”
Last year, there was an influx of sand trucks blocking streets and protecting crowds against a the threat of a truck attack, similar to one promoted in an ISIS magazine just a few weeks before the 2016 event.
Last month, eight people were killed in a truck attack on the West Side Highway bike path.
As the NYPD plans to protect the parade, former FBI agent and security expert Manny Gomez says each individual should have an exit strategy.
“Have a mental plan of, if something happens, this is what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m not just going to stay here and become a victim.”
The NYPD also announced some changes to the annual balloon inflation event.
Police said the event in Central Park Wednesday will begin two hours earlier at 1 p.m., but the public will have to leave by 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. and no backpacks will be allowed. Central Park West will be closed starting at noon.
“You’re going to go through a screening. We will not be allowing any large backpacks, umbrellas, coolers, or chairs in the area,” de Blasio said.
Public viewing times will start and end earlier as well, and you should expect to do a lot of walking to get to the viewing.
There are street closures, and police are installing concrete barriers along the way. No traffic will be allowed in the area after noon on Wednesday.
“We are going to be shutting down Central Park West from 72nd Street up to 86th Street,” de Blasio said.
Each balloon will have an officer assigned to it in addition to other less visible measures.
Last year an ISIS publication named the 2016 parade a prime target for a truck attack. On Halloween a truck attack claimed the lives of eight people along the West Side Highway bike path. That night, the Village Halloween Parade went on as planned.
“One of the things we show the world is the fact that we will keep going and that our great annual events that symbolize everything about the city, proud of, they will never be changed,” the mayor said.
“I live on the block where they blow up the balloons. I’m really excited. I invited a lot of people. They’re all coming, you gotta live your life and not live in fear,” Karen Reisler said.
“We have to all just get up and go out, you can’t hide under the bed,” Ken Hunt added.
Security experts suggest having an exit strategy ready in advance.
“Have a mental plan of if something happens this is what I’m going to do. I’m not just going to stay here and become a victim,” former FBI agent Manny Gomez said.
The mayor said there are no credible or specific threats to any events. Officials don’t want people to stay away, and said to come enjoy the holidays in New York, but if you see something, say something.