After Wisconsin tragedy, Philly police are confident in their Thanksgiving Parade safety plan

Volunteers wearing balloons lead Philadelphia's 100th Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

Volunteers wearing balloons lead Philadelphia's 100th Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

Ahead of Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, police say they don’t have much concern about disruptions or safety issues.

Tragedy struck a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin Sunday, when a man plowed his car through marchers, killing five people and injuring 48 others. Police say they believe the suspect in the case, Darrell E. Brooks, hit people intentionally.

PPD Homeland Security Chief Inspector Michael Cram says there’s no reason for similar concerns in Philly.

“Come to the parade,” he urged people. “Have fun. We’ll be out there. We have a great plan. We do this all the time.”

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Cram says making safety plans for large events, whether to prevent car fatalities or any other kind of danger, is “tradition at this point,” and that police will take similar precautions for the Thanksgiving parade that they do in many other large-scale events.

“We always have a robust police presence with a pretty solid traffic control plan,” he said. “You’ll see officers directing and controlling traffic. You’ll see police cars out there ensuring that traffic can’t flow down streets that we need to keep closed.”

He says there will also be officers on bikes patrolling the parade route, part of the “layered” approach PPD routinely uses for large events.

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The department isn’t increasing the number of officers on the street in the wake of the Wisconsin disaster. Cram says they already have many potential scenarios covered, but declined to detail exactly how officers will be deployed.

He did offer a note to drivers, though, saying that the Wisconsin tragedy shows why parades and other big public events can disrupt traffic to the extent they sometimes do.

“People get upset sometimes that we’re pushing traffic far away from the actual location,” he said. “That’s just something we have to do to keep everybody safe.”

The parade, billed as the oldest event of its kind in the U.S., steps off at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

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