The busy holiday season has hit New York City head on. Holiday lights flicker in the trees along midtown streets jammed with cars and cabs, families and groups of friends crowd in front of animated displays in large department store windows, and thousands swarm around Rockefeller Center day and night — even though the landmark Christmas tree is still unlit. Broadway shows play to sold-out crowds and popular restaurants have no reservations available.
The city is loud and boisterous, busy and bright — no different, it seems, than any other holiday season.
And yet, things are not quite the same, in ways both seen and unseen. There are more police in some places, and an undercurrent of uneasiness in some minds.
That’s to be expected. Concern and fear have seeped into our conversations and decisions after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali, and this week’s lockdown of Brussels in Belgium. Those events are part of the backdrop to Thanksgiving week, with its iconic swirl of parade balloons and floats, shopping, eating, and general merriment. Tourists from all over the world join visitors from all around the region.
Many are celebrating this weekend in public, undaunted. They want to experience the same unforgettable moments and make the same vivid memories so many have in other years. To assuage their fears and maintain their safety, New York is increasing its security presence. Hundreds of counterterrorism officers are part of the NYPD’s regular patrols at this year’s Thanksgiving Day parade and beyond. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the parade would be safe, and President Barack Obama urged people to live their lives as they usually do.
But others, including many who had planned to line the streets of midtown, will choose to stay home this week and make their memories there. That, too, is understandable.
Whatever your choices, we hope you enjoy the company of friends and family, and give thanks — for your loved ones, for a city filled with vigor and energy, and for a country whose freedoms are at the heart of our celebration.