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Archive for Monday, October 8, 2001

Amid heightened security, Columbus Day parade plans proceed on New York City’s Fifth Avenue

October 8, 2001

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— The city still counting its dead from the Sept. 11 attacks responded to news of retaliation overseas by boosting its already high security. But officials refused to let the tense atmosphere get in the way of preparations for the annual Columbus Day parade.

New Yorkers who have gotten used to having their identification checked are likely to see continued tight security after U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan on Sunday. The U.S. State Department is warning about the possibility of "strong anti-American sentiment and retaliatory actions against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world."

In spite of the possibility of more terrorist strikes in New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urged people to "go about their normal way of life." He also said the big Columbus Day parade, along nearly 30 blocks of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, would go ahead as scheduled Monday afternoon. He will be marching in it again this year.

"Just realize that we have to be a lot more careful now than maybe we have in the past," the mayor said.

Giuliani said he had been briefed about the impending retaliatory strikes Sunday morning, but followed through on his commitment to appear at a smaller Columbus Day parade Sunday on Staten Island.

Many New Yorkers--and those passing through the city--have begun to accept the fear of terrorism as part of their daily lives.

"We're vulnerable, and we have to actively go after that threat," said Ron Whillock, who lives outside Washington, D.C., and spent the weekend in New York City.

Following Sunday's retaliatory strikes, the city increased security at airports, bridges, tunnels and landmarks such as the Empire State Building. Giuliani said that 4,500 National Guard members and additional police officers were deployed throughout the city in areas "that might be possible targets in minds of terrorists."

"So far it seems to be working," Giuliani told CBS News in an interview Monday morning from the mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion, where he was holding a Columbus Day breakfast.

Authorities may have to shut down subways or close streets to investigate specific threats they receive, Giuliani said earlier. He did not identify sensitive areas, but in the past they have included government office buildings and courthouses.

Jay Ruvolo, an English professor from the Brooklyn borough, worried that groups of terrorists living in the United States may be preparing for more strikes. But he said he thinks additional attacks would have to have been planned long ago, so he feels relatively safe, for now.

"I think we're terrorist-proof for a long time," Ruvolo said as he passed through Pennsylvania Station, where plainclothes officers and bomb-sniffing dogs were on duty.

Ruvolo praised the timing of the U.S military action on Sunday. But he said he had wished for a faster response because the devastation in New York was so heart-wrenching.

"Emotionally, I think it should have been quicker," Ruvolo said. "Intelligently, or rationally, of course not. The raw emotion is that you want it to happen immediately, you want an immediate strike."

City officials have said 4,979 people remain missing from the attacks on the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. They have confirmed 393 deaths, including 335 victims who have been identified.

Giuliani appeared in Times Square on Sunday evening with police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to shake hands with tourists and thank them for visiting.

Earlier in the day, a coalition of groups gathered in Times Square to demonstrate their opposition to U.S. military action in Afghanistan. They had marched from Union Square, less than 2 miles from the trade center.

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