NEW YORK CITY (CBS) – Security has been beefed up on this Thanksgiving Day to protect millions of Americans kicking off festivities by attending parades nationwide.
At New York City’s famed Thanksgiving Day Parade, authorities have taken unprecedented steps, anticipating record turnout.
Members of New York’s finest began taking position along Central Park West overnight, gearing up to protect millions of spectators expected at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“NYPD is going to mount an even stronger operation this year, said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
de Blasio detailed many of the unprecedented security plans last night – dozens of sand-filled sanitation trucks blocking off cross-town traffic for the first time in the parade’s 90 year history, and officers on the ground using radiation detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs and other devices to thwart a terror attack.
“All police will have a smartphone and connect to incident command post if there is any issue,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.
The heavy police presence along the parade route did not deter thousands from going there Wednesday night to see the massive balloons featured in the Thanksgiving Day parade event come to life as they were inflated.
Ian DelBalso and his daughter were among them.
“To see the excitement in her eyes and watch the Thanksgiving kickoff and the holiday season is a big joy,” said DelBalso.
Lisa Steinmetz and her daughter, Ava, also stayed focused on the meaning of the holiday.
“We have so much to be thankful for, that we’re lucky to be here and live in America, live in the best city in the world,” Steinmetz said.
While there is no credible terror threat against the parade or the country, federal officials are urging Americans to stay vigilant, especially in public places.
There will be a total of 42 balloons in Thursday’s parade, including an updated Charlie Brown and an exact replica of the first ever balloon, Felix the Cat. The event begins at 9 a.m.