Citing safety, Mass. State Police announce new 4th of July restrictions for Boston celebration

A view of the Boston Pops Fireworks over the Charles River. Photo: http://2.bp.blogspot.com
A view of the Boston Pops Fireworks over the Charles River. Photo: http://2.bp.blogspot.com

In an effort to protect patriotic spectators, Massachusetts State Police today issued new rules for this year’s July 4th Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at the Boston Esplanade.

The extra precautions are a direct result of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured hundreds on April 15, according to police.

“Certainly this is a result of the Marathon terror attack and other global events, including attacks and activity in other parts of the world,” said State Police Spokesman David Procopio. “We always had a solid, effective operational plan for the Fourth, but we knew from the day of the Marathon attacks that we would be reviewing and refining our plan, and as I said, we studied best practices elsewhere, including NYC and London.”

This year, all guests’ bags will be checked upon entry, and officials have restricted the following items: backpacks, cans, pre-mixed beverages, liquid containers that are not clear and over two liters, and coolers with wheels – coolers without wheels are still allowed.

Also new this year is that everyone going into the Oval, Lagoon, and Island areas will be bag-searched and wanded (security officials will pass a wand over them to detect metal). In past years, they were subject to bag searches but not wanding. Also, the hard perimeter surrounding these areas has been significantly expanded.

New security measures also include the closure of the Mass. Ave. bridge at 4 p.m. to both cars and pedestrians.

As always, firearms, weapons, sharp objects, glass containers and fireworks, are not permitted and guests are also not allowed to grill, or use propane tanks or create open flames.

Following the April 15 attacks, reports surfaced suggesting that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev originally planned to attack this year’s 4th of July celebration, but spontaneously deciding to bomb the race.

But according to Procopio, guests should feel safe at this year’s event.

“We have absolutely no intelligence to suggest there is any specific threat to the event,” he said. “We have an intelligence section constantly monitoring threats across the state and beyond, and there is nothing to suggest any threat to or targeting of this event. Regardless, we need to, and will, remain vigilant.”

Producers of the annual celebration do not believe the additional measures will damper the fun, and contend that the public are probably prepared for the cranked up safety considering the April attack.

“People are more aware now because of what happened at the Marathon,” said Steve MacDonald, a spokesperson for Boston4 Productions. “We’re just enhancing (the security measures) that we’ve always had. There will be more check points, but I think the public understands, and it’s hopefully going to be an easy afternoon.”

MacDonald said he expects roughly the same turnout this year as in previous years – at least 500,000 – despite the potential fear brought on by the Marathon bombing.

“We’ve run into both sides of the spectrum. Some people are saying that they haven’t gone before, but they want to go to prove a point, and others that say ‘I’m going to sit this one out.’”

Guests can also expect a few extra eyes in the sky this year. Police said today that Governor Deval Patrick has approved funding for extra cameras at the park.

The new regulations are not the only changes to this year’s Independence Day celebration.

For the first time in two decades the annual Boston Pops 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular will not be aired nationally, due to low ratings.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



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