The 2017 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will unfold early Thursday along what will likely be the most closely watched 2.6 miles of pavement ever.
The midtown-Manhattan event, which attracts an estimated crowd of about 200,000 spectators, comes just weeks after a deadly truck attack in lower Manhattan killed eight people.
New York City authorities say they’ll be wrapping Thursday’s parade in a tight layer of security.
Police sharpshooters will be on hand, while sand-filled, virtually immovable sanitation trucks will keep vehicles from getting anywhere near the crowd or the parade's floats and giant balloons.
City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said recent terrorist attacks — including the Oct. 31 truck attack on a crowded bike path near the World Trade Center, may have given Americans “a couple of tough months,” but he added: “We won't ever accept such acts of hate and cowardice as inevitable in our society.”
A 2016 posting in an English-language magazine of the Islamic State cited New York’s Thanksgiving parade as "an excellent target," but authorities told The Associated Press that there was no confirmed credible threat.
New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said heavily armed officers with portable radiation detectors will walk among the crowds.
"There will be a cop on every block," he said.
Sharpshooters on rooftops will also be scanning building windows and balconies. Monahan said spectators should approach police to alert them to suspicious activity.
Police will also be checking spectators' bags. They'll turn away anyone with a large backpack, chair, cooler or umbrella, CBS News reported.
To protect against possible vehicle attacks, officials plan to deploy dozens of city sanitation trucks weighing about 16 tons apiece. Filled with sand, they weigh up to twice as much. The trucks will line cross streets along the 2.6-mile parade route, which stretches from West 77th Street, near the southern tip of Central Park, through midtown Manhattan. The parade ends at Macy's flagship store on 34th Street.
The sanitation trucks have seen parade duty before. Last Thanksgiving, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism John Miller told CBS This Morning that 81 trucks were blocking vehicles from entering the parade route. “You can ram a New York City Sanitation Department sand truck with a lot of things, but you’re not going to move it,” he said at the time.
The first major event since the Oct. 31 attack — the New York City Marathon, on Nov. 5 — drew tens of thousands of spectators and 50,000 runners from around the world. It went off with no major problems, officials said.