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story.lead_photo.caption Singer Patti LaBelle waves from a float at the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

NEW YORK -- The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade featured balloons, bands, stars and a heavy police presence to secure it in a year marked by attacks on outdoor gathering spots.

With new faces and old favorites in the lineup, the Americana extravaganza made its way through 2½ miles of Manhattan on a cold morning.

"The crowds are still the same, but there's a lot more police here. That's the age we live in," Paul Seyforth said as he attended the parade he'd watched since the 1950s.

"Not a lot's changed -- the balloons, the bands, the floats -- and that's the good thing," said Seyforth, 76, who'd flown in from Denver to spend his 50th wedding anniversary in New York and see this year's parade.

The televised parade was proceeding smoothly, though about midway through, a gust of wind on a largely calm day blew a candy-cane balloon into a tree branch, and it popped near the start of the route on Manhattan's Upper West Side. No one was injured.

In 2005, one of the parade's signature giant balloons caught a gust, hit a Times Square lamppost and injured two people. The candy cane was smaller than the giant balloons.

Timothy McMillian and his wife, their 9-year-old daughter and his in-laws started staking out a spot along the route at 6:30 a.m. They'd arrived from Greensboro, N.C., to see in person the spectacle they'd watched on TV for years.

McMillian, a 45-year-old schoolteacher, booked a hotel months ago, but he started to have some concerns about security when a truck attack on a bike path near the World Trade Center killed eight people on Halloween.

"With the event being out in the open like this, we were concerned," he said. "But we knew security would be ramped up today, and we have full confidence in the NYPD."

Authorities say there was no confirmation of a credible threat to the parade, but they were taking no chances after the truck attack and the October shooting that killed 58 people at a Las Vegas country music festival.

Four activists jumped over barriers and briefly sat down in the street about 9:10 a.m. to protest the end of a program that extended protections to aliens brought to the U.S. as children and now here illegally, according to a spokesman for activist group Cosecha. Police quickly escorted them back. No one was arrested, and the parade was not delayed.

New York Police Department officers with assault weapons and portable radiation detectors were circulating among the crowds, sharpshooters were on rooftops and sand-filled city sanitation trucks were poised as imposing barriers to traffic at every cross street. Officers also were escorting each of the giant balloons.

The mayor and police brass have repeatedly stressed that visitors shouldn't be deterred from the event. And Bekki Grinnell certainly wasn't.

"When your kid from Alaska is marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, you come," said Grinnell, whose daughter was marching with the band from Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska. Grinnell said she wasn't worried about security because of the police presence: "I think we're in a safe spot."

Other paradegoers also showed their appreciation for police: The NYPD marching band and a group of mounted officers got some of the biggest cheers from spectators lined up as many as 15 deep along barricades.

The 91st annual parade featured new balloons including Olaf from the Disney movie Frozen and Chase from the TV cartoon Paw Patrol, along with a new version of the Grinch of Dr. Seuss fame.

Smokey Robinson, The Roots, Flo Rida and Wyclef Jean were among the stars celebrating, along with performances from the casts of Broadway's Anastasia, Dear Evan Hansen and SpongeBob SquarePants. The lineup included a dozen marching bands, as well as the high-kicking Radio City Music Hall Rockettes -- and, of course, Santa Claus.

"This is my favorite thing ever," musician Questlove said as he got ready to ride the Gibson Guitars float with his bandmates in The Roots and late-night host Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show, where The Roots are the house band. Questlove said being in the parade is "probably my favorite perk" of the job.

"To go from being a spectator to being up here, it's kinda cool," he said.

Added singer-songwriter Andy Grammer as he got on the Homewood Suites float: "It's kind of like being at the center of Thanksgiving."

Information for this article was contributed by Julie Walker and Jennifer Peltz of The Associated Press.

Photo by AP/CRAIG RUTTLE
A balloon of Red from Angry Birds is followed by a SpongeBob SquarePants balloon Thursday as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade proceeds along Central Park West in New York. An increased police presence was seen along the parade route, but the annual event went off smoothly.

A Section on 11/24/2017

Print Headline: Police plentiful at Macy's parade

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