NEW YORK (AP) - New York is planning tight security around the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the wake of mass shootings elsewhere in the U.S., police said Wednesday, while stressing that there's no known, credible threat to the famed event itself.
The holiday tradition, which draws throngs of participants and spectators, this year comes two days after six people were killed in a shooting at a Walmart in Virginia, and four days after another shooting killed five people at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. Also over the weekend, a man who allegedly threatened to attack a synagogue was arrested at New York's Penn Station with a knife, a ski mask, a swastika arm patch and an associate, authorities said.
In light of those events, police “will deploy additional resources to ensure the festivities across the city are safe for all,” New York Police Department counterterrorism Chief Martine Materasso said at a news conference amid the inflation of the parade's signature giant balloons. She said authorities had no indication of “any active, credible or specific threat” to the event.
By now, the security measures are almost as familiar as the parade itself. They include heavy weapons teams, explosives detection dogs, a bomb squad, radiological and chemical sensors, drone detection, sand trucks and blocker vehicles and additional cameras on the route.
Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette promised the parade will be “bigger and better this year than ever before” - so much so that it's starting at 8:45 a.m. instead of 9 to accommodate all the balloons, floats, marching bands, singers, cheerleaders, clowns, Broadway casts, and Radio City Rockettes. And, of course, Santa Claus.
New balloons this year include the animated sensation “Bluey,” Stuart the one-eyed Minion from “Despicable Me 2,” and new green dinosaur and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” balloons.
The biggest characters are as long as 70 feet (21 meters) and have 50 handlers holding their ropes, Matt Kaprielian, who oversees the balloons, said in an interview as they were inflated.
Seeing them up close was “a dream come true” for youngster Sophia Correa Perea.
“They're, like, humongous!” she said.
Sam Lo and his family also were impressed to watch the giant characters take shape.
“This is wonderful - first time experiencing it live, in person,” Lo said.