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Philadelphia police say the tragedy in Wisconsin shouldn’t deter Thanksgiving Day parade goers

The parade route will be blocked off “as best as humanly possible,” police say.

Police officers stand in the parade route as a crowd gathers along the Ben Franklin Parkway during Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day parade in 2012.
Police officers stand in the parade route as a crowd gathers along the Ben Franklin Parkway during Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day parade in 2012.Read more

After a man drove his SUV into a Christmas parade in Wisconsin, Philadelphia police said Monday that their security plans for the city’s Thanksgiving Day parade were designed to prevent a similar incident.

Philadelphia’s parade route and surrounding streets will be closed off “as best as humanly possible” for the event Thursday, said Chief Inspector Michael Cram of the Police Department’s Homeland Security Division.

“Our plans are specifically designed to prevent that,” he said. “Not every plan is flawless, but … we always go in with a plan to hopefully cover every situation that could arise.”

A man drove his SUV into a crowd at a Christmas parade Sunday in a Milwaukee suburb, killing at least five people and injuring 48 others. A police officer fired a shot at him as he sped into the parade route, but officers didn’t continue firing because of the large number of people nearby.

The tragedy came four days before Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving parade is to return to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway after its 2020 cancellation due to COVID-19.

Cram, who held a briefing with reporters Monday in response to concerns about Philadelphia’s parade, said his department monitored and analyzed what happened in Wisconsin. But no changes are planned in response to Sunday’s tragedy, he said.

“Right now we’re not monitoring any threats to our event on Thursday,” he said.

Cram said the city has a long track record of safely hosting large events, and pointed to Sunday’s marathon as an example.

Parade goers can expect to see officers on foot, on bike, and in patrol cars, Cram said. And streets will be blocked off in the vicinity of the parade route, including with large city vehicles such as sanitation trucks, he said.

“People get upset sometimes that we’re pushing traffic far away from the actual location, but that’s just something we have to do to keep everybody safe,” he said.

Cram declined to comment on what specific deployment plans would stop someone from driving onto the parade route as happened in Wisconsin, but said his department always plans for all possibilities.

“It’s nothing new that we’re doing — it’s just been a template that’s been standardized for quite a few years,” he said.

Cram also had a message for Philadelphians: Don’t be afraid to come to the Parkway on Thursday morning to enjoy the event.

“Come to the parade,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it, my family’s looking forward to it, and you should do the same thing. We will provide a safe environment for you to come down and enjoy the day.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.