The Parade Kicked Off With Heightened Security

by Erin Corbett

Thursday's 90th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off at 9 a.m. ET in New York City and millions gathered along the parade route to catch a glimpse of their favorite floats and musicals. Following a threat made by the Islamic State in the days ahead of this year's event, some were concerned about security and safety at the parade. Is it safe to attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? The city prepared for everything with heightened security at every step of the parade route, making sure it would be accessible to anybody who wanted to attend.

Ahead of this year's parade, NYPD counterterrorism official John Miller spoke at a news conference to reassure bystanders that the department had prepared for the day and that it would be safe to attend. He said, "This is not something that just occurred to us over the weekend ... Come to the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Have a good time. Bring the family."

Safety means different things to different people. For some, an increased police presence might signify a greater sense of safety, while for others it might mean the opposite. Security for this year's parade took some steps to ensure the general security of the event, though, including New York City sanitation trucks filled with sand to block off intersections and other areas of the parade route.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed people's concerns of a potential attack at a news conference on Wednesday night. He said, "We are aware of some of the reports that are out there. But I want to assure all New Yorkers, there's no credible and specific information of any specific threat directed at this parade. NYPD is more than ready to handle anything that is going on around us, and to work with everyone to make sure it's a safe and fun day for everyone who attends."

The NYPD's counterterrorism chief, Jim Waters, said there would be bomb-sniffing dogs, radiation detectors, and plainclothes officers in the crowd. "This year we're going to see a bit more of a robust counterterrorism presence," he told NBC News. "There's been a lot of rhetoric and propaganda from ISIL and from al-Qaeda recently ... and we don't take any chances here in New York City."

City and security officials have made clear that the event would be safe for all attendees and that they were prepared for anything that could happen during the event.