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New York Police Heighten Security Ahead Of Thanksgiving Day Parade


At tomorrow's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, there will be 8,000 participants. The lineup includes four new balloons and six new floats. The New York Police Department will also be deploying something new at the parade - a counterterrorism security force. Officials say there are no specific threats, but the city remains a top terror target. From member station WNYC, Stephen Nessen reports on the parade preparations.

STEPHEN NESSEN, BYLINE: In front of Macy's flagship store at 34th Street last night, under the glowing words believe, performers in the 89th annual parade held a rehearsal on the closed street. The Rockettes, dressed in black tights and black puffy coats with silver dance shoes, shuffle in the cold, occasionally kicking their legs straight up. Their stage manager scrambles to affix black tape to the black ground to help them hit their marks.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: This is true center? All right.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: It's pretty close.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: We do a bit more than pretty close.

NESSEN: Watching over the preparations on the side are several NYPD officers. They are just a sliver of the force that will be out tomorrow. Speaking at a news conference, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there will be a heavier police presence than in previous years. In addition to helicopters, bomb-sniffing dogs and plainclothes officers in the crowd, this will be the first large event in which the 200-member Critical Response Command is deployed. The unit was created after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.


BILL BRATTON: Some of those offices would be equipped with the long guns, as we refer to them - the rifles. That - we'll have additional Hercules teams. Those are the the heavily armed entities that will be around the area of the parade route.

NESSEN: Despite the extra security, he says the NYPD still relies on the old slogan, if you see something, say something.


BRATTON: Don't be afraid. Be aware. It's part of the new world we live in.

NESSEN: Fifty-five-year-old Kim Collins from Oak Grove, Mo., is checking out the window displays outside Macy's. She's planning on attending the parade with her large family but says if there's a terror alert or a specific threat, they'll skip it.

KIM COLLINS: I am a little nervous, so we're going to be watching things. And if it gets too scary, we'll just watch from the hotel.

NESSEN: Collins looks over at her infant grandchildren - twin 1-year-olds.

COLLINS: I would hope people would honor the tradition of the Macy's Day Parade and let it go on, but we know there are - is evil in the world. And so - just praying that our family will be safe.

NESSEN: The weather is expected to be sunny and in the 50s. The NYPD says there could be a record turnout. For NPR News, I'm Stephen Nessen in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.