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NYPD: No known threats to Macy’s Parade, but tight security

New York is planning tight security around the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in the wake of mass shootings elsewhere in the US, police said on Wednesday, while stressing that there is no known, credible threat to the famous event itself.

The holiday tradition that draws crowds of attendees and spectators this year comes two days after six people were killed in a shooting at a Walmart in Virginia, and four days after another shooting killed five at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub. Also over the weekend, a man allegedly threatening to attack a synagogue was arrested at New York’s Penn Station with a knife, a ski mask, a swastika patch and an accomplice, authorities said.

In light of these developments, police will “deploy additional resources to keep everyone safe throughout the city,” said NYPD Chief of the Counter Terrorism Department, Martine Materasso, at a press conference after inflating the parade’s signature giant balloons. She said authorities had no indications of an “active, credible or specific threat” to the event.

By now, the security measures are almost as familiar as the parade itself. These include heavy weapons teams, explosive detection dogs, a bomb squad, radiological and chemical sensors, drone detection, sand trucks and blocking vehicles, and additional cameras along the route.

Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette has promised that the parade will be “bigger and better than ever this year” – so much so that it starts at 8:45 am instead of 9:00 am to accommodate all the balloons, floats, marching bands, singers, cheerleaders, clowns, Broadway casts, and the Radio City Rockettes. And of course Santa Claus.

New balloons this year include the animated sensation “Bluey”, the one-eyed Minion Stuart from “Despicable Me 2” and the new green dinosaur and “Diary of a Wimpy Man” balloons.

The largest figures are 70 feet (21 meters) long and have 50 guides holding ropes, Matt Kaprielian, who oversees the balloons, said in an interview when they were inflated.

Seeing them up close was a “dream come true” for young Sophia Correa Perea.

“They are so huge!” she said.

Sam Lo and his family were also impressed as they watched the giant figures take shape.

“It’s wonderful – it’s the first time I’m experiencing it live, in person,” said Lo.

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