Annual event goes off with­out a hitch fol­low­ing con­cerns about a ter­ror­ist at­tack

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Balsamo

Santa Claus, gi­ant car­toon bal­loons and whim­si­cal floats were pro­tected by sand-filled dump trucks and bomb-sniff­ing dogs as the Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade wound its way through the streets of Man­hat­tan un­der heavy se­cu­rity.

The annual spec­ta­cle went off with­out a hitch Thurs­day, with thou­sands of spec­ta­tors and more than 3,000 po­lice of­fi­cers lin­ing the streets amid an air of un­cer­tainty about the pos­si­bil­ity of an ex­trem­ist at­tack.

“There are so many po­lice of­fi­cers out here you can’t help but feel safe,” said Sarah Ben­der, who brought her two young sons to watch the pa­rade. “It’s a day to have fun, watch the bal­loons and cel­e­brate with your fam­ily. You can’t spend your life wor­ry­ing about what could hap­pen.”

While au­thor­i­ties had said there was no con­fir­ma­tion of any cred­i­ble threat, they stepped up safety mea­sures in the wake of the July cargo truck at­tack on a hol­i­day crowd in Nice, France, and a re­cent post­ing in an English-lan­guage Is­lamic State group mag­a­zine that called the Thanks­giv­ing pa­rade “an ex­cel­lent tar­get.”

Rev­el­ers cheered and yelled, “Thank you!” to of­fi­cers along the route Thurs­day, giv­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to the New York Po­lice De­part­ment march­ing band.

Spec­ta­tors some­times stood 10 deep to see the pa­rade and its sig­na­ture gi­ant bal­loons, in­clud­ing Ron­ald McDon­ald, SpongeBob SquarePants, Char­lie Brown and other char­ac­ters. March­ing bands from across the coun­try en­ter­tained rev­el­ers, as did such celebrity singers as Tony Bennett and Sarah McLach­lan.

An­nie Quinn trav­eled more than three hours from Al­bany to at­tend the pa­rade with her cousin and two sis­ters — all three dressed in turkey cos­tumes — scor­ing prime front-row seats along the route.

“We sat here for hours,

but it was worth it,” she said. “This was the best pa­rade I’ve seen in a while.”

But amid the fun and high-fives, there was in­ten­sive se­cu­rity. Of­fi­cers with as­sault weapons and portable ra­di­a­tion de­tec­tors walked among the crowds, and more

than 80 san­i­ta­tion trucks filled with sand were parked at in­ter­sec­tions and other places, act­ing as bar­ri­ers against any kind of at­tack. Po­lice have used san­i­ta­tion trucks as bar­ri­cades be­fore. But the NYPD had said the trucks would play a big­ger role at this year’s pa­rade af­ter the Nice at­tack, which killed more than 80 peo­ple.


Ron­ald McDon­ald and a Ron­ald McDon­ald bal­loon make their way across Sixth Av­enue dur­ing the Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade in New York on Thurs­day.


Heav­ily armed mem­bers of the New York Po­lice De­part­ment stand on Cen­tral Park South be­fore the pa­rade.


Santa Claus waves from his float as he passes along Sixth Av­enue dur­ing the Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day pa­rade, Thurs­day, Nov. 24, 2016, in New York.

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