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Working to keep people safe at Fourth on Flagler

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 19:20:39-04

Thousands of people are packing downtown West Palm Beach for the 29th annual Fourth on Flagler.

And with terrorism concerns on everyone's radar, what is the city is doing to protect you tonight?

Unfortunately in the past year, we've seen attacks where terrorists have driven along sidewalks to target victims such as the attacks in Nice, France and London, England.

Tuesday night, up to 100,000 people are expected at the West Palm Beach Independence Day celebration.

Around 4 p.m., the city put up dump trucks to block the sidewalk and road entrances to the festival. It's the same method cities like New York and Boston have used to maintain a safe barrier.

"It's important no matter what city you're in or how long you've been putting your 4th of July event," said Mary Pinak, the community events coordinator for the city of West Palm Beach.

WPB Police wouldn't share details on their efforts but droves of police officers could be seen throughout the Flagler District on Tuesday evening.

"Our west palm beach police and fire rescue will be out in full compliment. They definitely have a plan in place and we won't reveal what that is for obvious reasons," said Pinak.

A bucket truck, provided by the city, is in place along Flagler to give police and security forces a bird's eye view of the crowds.

"From what I've seen of the fire department and police, they're pretty effective," said Mark Singer, a Palm Beach resident who has been attending Fourth on Flagler for years. "We've never had any problems."

Sidelle Illion is visiting the area from New York City. She said she knows the reality of heightened security that we live in today.

"We've been around for several decades. It's never been like this," she said. "You just don't know when things are going to happen. You have to be prepared."

Illion works in Manhattan near Trump Tower. During high profile events, she's seen high security measures throughout the city.

"The whole building was surrounded by dump trucks filled with sand. I saw the trucks out during New Year's, too," she said. "That would be great to see that here. I was wondering what security will be like, it's such a wide open space."

The Belforts are bringing the kids to their first big celebration.

"This is an area where you have families," said Rudy Belfort.

And while the festivities are underway, Belfort told me they'll be on high alert nonetheless.

"It's a difficult time," he said. "We don't really do crowds like that but so far we like what we're seeing. And we have to feel somewhat safe to be here."

Large backpacks, coolers or personal fireworks are not allowed at Fourth on Flagler.

There is food, live music and games for the kids, along with a veterans ceremony happening at 8:45 p.m. An unveiling of a 5-story long American flag will be followed by the fireworks show at 9 p.m.