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Officials: Thanksgiving parade crowds will return under the NYPD's watchful eye

An NYPD officer and his canine partner on

An NYPD officer and his canine partner on Wednesday in Manhattan as last-minute preparations continued for the return of in-person attendance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Credit: David Handschuh

Concrete barriers, sand-laden sanitation trucks, and thousands of uniformed cops will together form a visible security component for the return of crowds to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade after last year's mostly remote version.

An effusive Mayor Bill de Blasio talked up the in-person parade during a media briefing Wednesday in Central Park while crews inflated parade balloons nearby.

"The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is back. It is something to be proud of," de Blasio said. "The whole nation looks to New York City and sees the greatness of all New Yorkers and this place on display."

The 2020 parade was a mostly TV-only event because of the coronavirus pandemic, with just a small, select group watching in person.

De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea — in their swan song days as mayor and the city's top cop — both reiterated what has become a regular refrain about security for special city events: There are no specific, credible threats against either the parade or the city.

Still, NYPD's presence will be hard to miss. Thousands of cops are set to be positioned along the parade route, and 180 tons of concrete barriers emblazoned with the NYPD logo will block access streets. K-9 units will also patrol the route.

"They are going to see things that are quite visible, men and women in uniform, walking around on the parade route," Shea said at the briefing. "You will see them as you turn around and look up on rooftops."

But as has become common place at big events, the NYPD will have plainclothes officers and a full cadre of counterterrorism cops on duty in a multilayered approach. The stepped up safety measures include heavy weapons and radiological detection teams, and special bomb sniffing canines, said Chief Martine Materasso, head of the department's counterterrorism bureau,

Police are also placing an additional 300 security cameras along the parade route, Materasso said.

In terms of COVID-19 measures, de Blasio said there is no vaccination protocol but he urged parade revelers to wear masks.

A small audience witnessed last year's parade but de Blasio and Shea both said they anticipate this year’s crowd to be a return to the more traditional size, although neither man ventured to make an estimate.

"People have waited a long time for this parade," the mayor said. "I think you will see a big, strong crowd."

Dress warmly, said Shea, adding the admonition to avoid spiking the hot chocolate.

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