Security Beefed Up For Independence Day Celebrations

Jul 2, 2013

As people celebrate America’s independence at community concerts and fireworks shows this week there is a focus on security at large public gatherings. Police are mindful of April’s Boston Marathon bombing.

       Massachusetts authorities consulted with security experts and studied practices used by police in New York City and London to devise a security plan for July 4th.  Springfield Police Sergeant John Delaney encourages people to attend the annual concert and fireworks show at the city’s Riverfront Park. He said there is nothing that suggests any threat to the event.

       Massachusetts State Police plan to have more officers in uniform, in plainclothes and more video surveillance at Boston’s  Fourth of July celebration on the Charles River Esplanade. The traditional music and fireworks show is typically attended by more than 500,000 people.  Backpacks are banned this year, and spectators will have to pass through metal detectors.

       No such restrictions are in place for the Springfield event, according to Delaney.

       Organizers of the “ Star Spangled Springfield” July 4th celebration expect a larger than usual crowd this year-- perhaps up to 100,000 people-- because of a free concert by The Commodores, the singers who had a string of hits on Motown Records in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

       Accordingly there will be a larger than usual police presence primarily to deal with traffic.

       The Memorial Bridge will close to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic for 24 hours starting at 11 p.m. July 3rd to allow for the fireworks to be setup.   Other downtown streets, and Exit 7 from Interstate 91 will close at 7:30 p.m. on  July 4th and reopen after the show ends.

                       A number of communities have been  forced to abandon fireworks displays in years past because of budget cuts. Sequestration has led to the cancellation of July 4th shows on a number of military bases this year.  Judy Matt, the president of Spirit of Springfield , said the Springfield show, which her organization produces,  has gone on each year since 1991.

       Matt credited corporate sponsors such as MassMutal Finance Group, which made a $40,000 donation that covers the cost of the fireworks. MGM Resorts, which hopes to build a casino in Springfield, is sponsoring the performance by the Commodores.