NEW YORK CITY – More than 2,500 police officers stationed along the route of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, according to Police Commissioner William Bratton.
As a preventive measure, nearly two weeks after the fatal Paris attacks carried on by ISIS terrorists, this has been the greatest number of officers ever assigned to the traditional event. No major incidents were reported and more than 3 million people enjoyed the Thanksgiving festivities.
Heavy security was remarkably noticeable, not only because of the helicopters hovering overhead and the hundreds of officers walking along the crowded city blocks, but also in the parade itself as a van with armed personnel on board drove Sixth Avenue.
“You can’t live in fear,” expressed Debbie Irey, 50, a tourist from Salem, Oregon, who works in the financial sector. “The police officers with guns in Times Square heightens your awareness.”
President Barack Obama reassured Americans on Wednesday that the country would be safe and encouraged them to spend a joyful holiday as usual. After a video published last week on YouTube by Islamic State militants footing Times Square, city officials have affirmed there are no confirmed terrorists threats against New York.
Before the parade started, Mayor Bill de Blasio commented at a news conference that the celebration was a clear indication that New Yorkers were not intimidated by the recent terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris on November 13.
Tom Pop, from Ridgefield, New Jersey, has come to the 2.5-mile (4-km) parade with his wife Pamela every single year for the past two decades. She said it represented a unique part of their holiday. Tom commented how surprised he had been as he saw police officers on top of Radio City for the first time.
In its 89th year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade launched four balloon characters, including Angry Bird’s red and Scrat, the unfortunate squirrel from the “Ice Age” animated film franchise, which floated along with the traditional Pikachu, Hello Kitty, Snoopy and the classic SpongeBob SquarePants.
In the United States, Thanksgiving marks the busiest time of year to travel. An estimated of 50 million people around the world were expected to watch the televised parade, which ended at Macy’s flagship store as always.