NEW YORK (AP) — Giant balloons took to the clear, sunny sky over midtown Manhattan on Thursday for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with spectators lining up along the parade route and a heavy police presence keeping a watchful eye.
The parade, in its 89th year, included marching bands and floats to go along with Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Paddington and other giant balloons.
City officials have said there are no known, credible threats against New York following the recent attacks in Paris and a video purportedly produced by the Islamic State group that contained video clips of Times Square. But Police Commissioner William Bratton said more than 2,500 officers would be stationed along the parade route for the Thanksgiving Day festivities – the largest number of officers the department has ever assigned to the event.
As the parade made its way through midtown Manhattan, helicopters flew overhead and officers stood on top of mobile command center vans to watch the crowds. Police even stood on top of the marquee at Radio City Music Hall.
Pamela and Tom Popp of Ridgefield, New Jersey said they’ve come to the city every year for the parade for at least 20 years.
“It’s just a very special part of our holiday,” Pamela Popp said. “We’re very proud of New York City and this wonderful tradition.”
Her husband said security was heavier than in past years. “I see the cops on top of Radio City,” Tom Popp said. “Never saw that before.”
Kim Miller, of Boston, also said she noticed the heavy security. “It’s a little scary but at least it’s keeping us safe. We’re having fun.”
Speaking at a news conference Wednesday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “I think people are coming here from all over the city, all over the metropolitan region, all over the country to be a part of this parade.”
He added, “We cannot let the terrorists succeed at psychological warfare. … They’re doing what they do to try and create fear, to try and change us.”
Terrorism fears didn’t change plans for Jerry Noack of Wilmington, Delaware, who surveyed the police presence.
“There’s a lot of security here,” he said. “I feel pretty safe.”