BOSTON- Boston is a different town post marathon bombings and nowhere is that more apparent than at this year’s Independence Day festivities.
The Esplanade, a park that winds along the banks of the Charles river and culminates at a large outdoor amphitheater known as the Hatch Shell, is the home of Boston’s annual July fourth concert put on the by the Boston Pops.
The event draws locals and tourist alike and fills the park with half a million people every year for the music and the spectacular fireworks.
In the past, security measures at the park were near invisible. Just the average crowd control crews and traffic police manned the nearby streets which were closed to traffic.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular and it is clear just how much times have changed.
Boston is on edge since the bombings and the police have spared no measure to make people feel safe as they attend scheduled events.
Barricades section off the area for nearly a mile around the concert venue. FBI in brown bullet proof vests mill around, while pairs of State Police line the walkways every twenty feet or so.
Massport Fire Rescue has boats stationed along the river, and a lone police jet ski zips around watching the crowd from the water.
A mother and her daughter, holding a baby, are visiting from Germany. They sit on a bench listening to the band practice July 3. Security was too much of a hassle with the baby so they are content to sit outside the gates watching the river and the crowds.
Security measures limit what you can bring within the perimeter, and couples mill about grasping clear plastic trash bags, the only bags allowed past security.
There is an awkward kind of festive feeling in the air.
Visitors for the July 4 events are advised to come early, allowing extra time to pass through security before setting up their blankets.
In addition to the usual restrictions, pre-mixed beverages, coolers with wheels and backpacks have been added to the list of things not to bring. Purses are allowed and will be inspected.
Performers for this years concert include local guitarist Susan Tedeschi joined by Howie Day, Ellis Hall, and Ayla Brown.
Boston Police are expecting the usual crowd despite the added security, but for those who don’t want to start their holiday weekend with their legs spread and arms out for the batton scan, there are plenty of other events around the city.
Check out a complete listing here.