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Security Tight for Thanksgiving Parade in Terror-wary New York City

  • Associated Press

FILE - A Charlie Brown giant balloon makes its way down 6th Avenue during the 90th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Manhattan borough of New York, Nov. 24, 2016.

Sand-filled sanitation trucks and police sharpshooters will mix with glittering floats and giant balloons at a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that comes in a year of terrible mass shootings and not even a month after a deadly truck attack in lower Manhattan.

New York City's mayor and police brass have repeatedly stressed that layers of security, along with hundreds of officers, will be in place for one of the nation's biggest outdoor holiday gatherings, and that visitors should not be deterred.

"We had a couple of tough months as a nation," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said. "We won't ever accept such acts of hate and cowardice as inevitable in our society."

A posting last year in an English-language magazine of the Islamic State group, which took credit for the Oct. 31 truck attack that killed eight people, mentioned the Thanksgiving parade as "an excellent target." Authorities say there is no confirmation of a credible threat.

"I want to assure the people that we swore to protect that anytime something happens anywhere in the world, the NYPD works with our law enforcement partners and studies it and we learn from it and it informs our decision making going forward," O'Neill said.

FILE - Performers and balloons pass through 59th Street during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Nov. 24, 2016.
FILE - Performers and balloons pass through 59th Street during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Nov. 24, 2016.

This year's security plan includes dozens of city sanitation trucks, which weigh about 16 tons empty and up to twice that with sand, that will be lined up as imposing barriers to traffic at every cross street along the parade route stretching from Central Park to Macy's flagship store on 34th Street.

In addition, officers with assault weapons and portable radiation detectors will walk among the crowds, and sharpshooters on rooftops will scan building windows and balconies for anything unusual.

New York officials are also asking the tens of thousands of spectators to be alert for anything suspicious.

"There will be a cop on every block," said NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan. "Go to that cop and say something."

The 91st annual parade begins at 9 a.m. and will be broadcast live on NBC. Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Flo Rida and Wyclef Jean will be among the stars celebrating, along with performances from the casts of Broadway's "Anastasia," "Dear Evan Hansen" and "SpongeBob SquarePants."

New balloons added this year include Dr. Seuss' Grinch, Olaf from the smash movie Frozen, and a puppy called Chase from Nickelodeon's Paw Patrol.

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