Macy’s pa­rade keeps rev­elry alive de­spite tight se­cu­rity

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Wil­liam Mathis

NEW YORK » The Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade fea­tured bal­loons, bands, stars and heavy se­cu­rity in a year marked by at­tacks on out­door gath­er­ing spots.

With new faces and old fa­vorites in the lineup, the Amer­i­can ex­trav­a­ganza made its way through 2½ m iles of Man­hat­tan on a cold morn­ing.

“The crowds are still the same, but there’s a lot more po­lice here. That’s the age we live in,” Paul Sey­forth said as he at­tended the pa­rade he’d watched since the 1950s.

“Not a lot’s changed — the bal­loons, the bands, the floats — and that’s the good thing,” said Sey­forth, 76, who’d flown in from Den­ver to spend his 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary in New York and see this year’s pa­rade.

The tele­vised pa­rade was pro­ceed­ing smoothly, though about mid­way through, a gust of wind on a largely calm day blew a candy- cane bal­loon into a tree branch, and it popped near the start of the route on Man­hat­tan’s Up­per West Side. No one was in­jured.

In 2005, one of the pa­rade’s sig­na­ture gi­ant bal­loons caught a gust, hit a Times Square lamp­post and in­jured two peo­ple. The candy cane was smaller than the gi­ant bal­loons.

Ti­mothy McMil­lian and his wife, their 9-year- old daugh­ter and his in-laws started stak­ing out a spot along the route at 6:30 a.m. They’d come from Greens­boro, North Carolina, to see in per­son the spec­ta­cle they’d watched on TV for years.

McMil­lian, a 45-yearold school­teacher, booked a ho­tel months ago, but he started to have some con­cerns about se­cu­rity when a truck at­tack on a bike path near the World Trade Cen­ter killed eight peo­ple on Hal­loween.

“With the event be­ing out in the open like this, we were con­cerned,” he said.

“But we knew se­cu­rity would be ramped up to­day, andwe have full con­fi­dence in the NYPD.”

Au­thor­i­ties say there is no con­fir­ma­tion of a cred­i­ble threat to the pa­rade, but they were tak­ing no chances af­ter both the truck at­tack and the Oc­to­ber shoot­ing that killed 58 peo­ple at a Las Ve­gas coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val.

Four ac­tivists jumped over bar­ri­ers and briefly sat down in the street at about 9:10 a.m. to protest the end of a pro­gram that ex­tended pro­tec­tions to im­mi­grants brought il­le­gally to the U. S. as chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for ac­tivist group Cosecha. Po­lice quickly es­corted them back. No one was ar­rested and the pa­rade was not de­layed.

New York Po­lice De­part­ment of­fi­cers with as­sault weapons and por­ta­ble ra­di­a­tion de­tec­tors were cir­cu­lat­ing among the crowds, sharp­shoot­ers were on rooftops and sand-filled city san­i­ta­tion trucks were poised as im­pos­ing bar­ri­ers to traffic at ev­ery cross street.

Of­fi­cers also were es­cort­ing each of the gi­ant bal­loons.

The mayor and po­lice brass have re­peat­edly stressed that vis­i­tors shouldn’t be de­terred.

Many pa­rade­go­ers showed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for po­lice: The NYPD march­ing band and a group of mounted of­fi­cers got some of the big­gest cheers from spec­ta­tors lined up as many as 15 deep along bar­ri­cades. Among other crowd fa­vorites: as did the SpongeBob Square Pants bal­loon.

The 91st an­nual pa­rade fea­tured new bal­loons in­clud­ing Olaf from the Dis­ney movie “Frozen” and Chase from the TV car­toon “Paw Pa­trol” along with a new ver­sion of the Grinch of Dr. Seuss fame.

Smokey Robin­son, The Roots, Flo Rida and Wy­clef Jean were among the stars cel­e­brat­ing, along with per­for­mances from the casts of Broad­way’s “Anas­ta­sia,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Sponge Bob Square Pants.”

CRAIG RUTTLE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Heav­ily armed mem­bers of the New York Po­lice De­part­ment take a po­si­tion along the route Thurs­day be­fore the start of the Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade in New York.

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