More police officers and firefighters will be on the streets Tuesday night as part of an expanded public safety plan for First Night, city officials said, as they prepare to host up to 1 million or more people for the first New Year’s Eve since the Boston Marathon bombings.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other officials announced the enhanced safety plan Monday but largely avoided details, instead stressing a standard annual appeal to revelers to celebrate safely and ride public transportation.
But Acting Boston Police Commissioner William Evans acknowledged even greater vigilance on the part of safety agencies in the aftermath of the April 15 attack, speaking on a day in which officials would unveil the first-ever Boston Marathon-themed ice sculpture, near the race’s finish in Copley Square.
“We’re always alert since what happened in April,” said Evans, who ran the Marathon that day, then helped command the scene as a Boston Police superintendent. “We don’t want to talk about specifics, but obviously since April 15 we’ve stepped up all our security.”
Speaking alongside the mayor at City Hall, Evans said more officers will be in place, particularly along the First Night parade route and on nearby streets, and that “plenty of bomb assets” will be on hand as a precaution.
He likened the preparation and day-of deployment to other events — July 4 on the Esplanade and the Red Sox World Series championship parade — that drew similar-sized crowds and that went smoothly and safely in the months after the Marathon.
Evans asked people to alert police if they see anything suspicious on New Year’s Eve.
At Copley Square on Tuesday evening, the noted ice sculptor Don Chapelle and the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, Thomas Grilk, unveiled a 7-foot-high ice carving of the iconic unicorn logo of the association and the Boston Marathon. Chapelle, who has run the Marathon multiple times, once froze a pair of his running shoes into a First Night depiction of spring, but the piece he worked on Monday was the first Marathon-specific sculpture ever commissioned.
Grilk, who said the idea came from Menino’s office, called it a “celebration of the resilience of the citizens of Boston” while looking forward to April, “when the Marathon will be back better than ever.”
“The Marathon is kind of a harbinger of spring rather than a winter event, but this year we’ll remember that spirit of strength all year long,” said Grilk, standing before the ice sculpture by the bronze Boston Marathon marker inlaid into the bricks at Copley Square, not far from the finish line.
Earlier at City Hall, Menino gathered Evans and other officials to discuss safety while promoting the 21st First Night of his tenure, and the 38th since Boston gave birth to the modern arts-and-culture-based, family-friendly celebration as a way to end the 1976 bicentennial, an idea that soon spread.
The Boston celebration was nearly scuttled this year with the folding of First Night’s longtime nonprofit organizer. But Menino, in a final gesture, assembled a collection of foundation and corporate sponsors to reinvigorate First Night.
“We’re going to have a wonderful night, a night to celebrate the culture of Boston,” Menino said. “Public safety is a top priority. I ask everyone to enjoy the night but also be smart. . . . Take public transportation. No drinking — no public drinking — will be allowed during the celebration. The police are going to be out in force.”
Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin reminded the public that parts of Boylston, Charles, and Dartmouth streets, as well as Atlantic Avenue, will be closed to vehicle traffic around the time of the parade and fireworks displays, and that an array of Back Bay and downtown streets will be marked as not allowing parking, at the risk of a $75 ticket and $90 towing expense.
“So you can come in, park your car, and run the risk of $165, or [ride the T and] use that money to buy the kids the glow sticks and the horns and all of that stuff, and maybe even have dinner,” Tinlin said. “We encourage you to do that and stimulate the economy, as opposed to ringing in the new year in the City of Boston tow lot.”
The MBTA will be free after 8 p.m. and will run with extended hours and “rush hour-plus” service, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott said.
“We will be out there pumpin’ on the T,” she said. Rapid transit will run until 2 a.m. — though last-train riders should head to stations around 1:30 a.m. — while commuter rail and ferry customers should consult special line-specific schedules at MBTA.com.
Noting that it might be his last City Hall press conference, Menino was by turns nostalgic, self-deprecating, and grateful, holding court before about 30 reporters and photographers. Heading afterward for a groundbreaking for affordable housing on Archdiocese property in Dorchester, Menino joked that he was “looking for the blessings of the cardinal as I leave office.” And in an aside he whispered that all the tributes and handshakes he has received have made the last few weeks “the longest wake I’ve ever attended.”
Speaking off the cuff, Menino declared his love for Boston, extolled the local media for its spirit and diligence compared with that of other cites — “I’m gonna miss all you folks” — and expressed mixed feelings about the possibility of one last nor’easter at the end of the week.
“I think the snow gods are trying to give me a going-away present,” he said. Next week, “I’ll be someplace else, and the phone won’t ring,” he said. “It’s time to move on.”
Eric Moskowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.