The decision not to air the July 4 festivities and fireworks extravaganza along the Esplanade on national television isn’t the only major change to this year’s celebration. There are also heightened security measures being rolled out in regards to what attendees can bring to the annual event, which will be strictly enforced by police officials.
On Tuesday, State Police announced that anyone that shows up to the July 4 celebration would be subject to a search, and that no backpacks, shopping bags, or other containers would be allowed into designated areas along the Esplanade. “We’ve made several significant enhancements to this year’s security plan. Some of these enhancements the public will see and some of them you won’t see. As for ones that you will see, we will have more troopers than ever before assigned to this year’s festivities. Troopers—wearing yellow vests—will be highly visible and prominently stationed throughout the Esplanade,” said State Police Colonel Timothy Alben.
According to police, the enforcement and regulations are a result of the attack at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, and are meant to ensure the safety of those attending both the July 3 rehearsal at the Hatch Shell, and the main event at 9:30 p.m. along the Charles River.
Officials have been considering stricter rules since news surfaced in May that the alleged Marathon bombing suspects had originally planned their attack for July 4, but instead detonated the bombs on Patriots Day.
As part of the heightened security measures, all personal items must be carried in see-through, clear plastic bags. Any “clutches” or purses will be sifted through by officers in brightly colored vests at designated checkpoints, and once inspected will be allowed to pass through to areas where people congregate to watch the celebrations. Wheeled coolers are also prohibited, and all carriers that contain food or drinks must have a shoulder strap or single handle. As always, police will have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to pre-mixed drinks, and all liquids must be in clear containers smaller than two liters.
Officials said Tuesday that there would be heavy policing at the July 3 and July 4 festivities, including real-time camera surveillance and increased patrols.
All allowable items must be checked by police and security officials prior to 4 p.m. the day of the fireworks, as people file into “the Oval,” in front of the Hatch Shell, and towards the lagoon. After 4 p.m., police said the only items that will be allowed through are folding beach chairs and some tarps or blankets. “It is important to note that even on the allowed items list, we are closing off access to the secure area with those items. People could still come in, but they would have to leave their items behind,” said State Police Spokesman David Procopio.
Procopio said another new point is that officials have “significantly expanded” the perimeter for the secured area. “This is the area for which all entrants will be scanned with a metal detection wands and have their bags searched. There are new checkpoints for entry into this area,” he said.
Enhanced security measures were also announced Tuesday for anyone with a boat or vessel that planned on idling in the Charles River on July 4. Information about those restrictions can be found on the Massachusetts State Police Facebook page.
To further their safety initiative, police have also set up a tip-line where people can text officers and report any suspicious activities going on at the fireworks display. Attendees can send their observations by texting Boston4 to 67238.
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