No credible threat to Esplanade fireworks celebration, officials say
There’s no credible threat to the annual July 4 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, but attendees should remain vigilant and stay hydrated during Wednesday’s ceremony, which will bring hot temperatures and sizzling musical acts, officials said Monday.
“There are [currently] no credible threats out there,” said Daniel Bennett, the state’s public safety secretary, during a late morning briefing in front of the Hatch Shell, which was already festooned with red, white, and blue stars in anticipation of the big night.
He urged attendees to alert police on scene if they see anything amiss.
“The most important intelligence tool that’s out there,” Bennett said, remains “the people who are going to see something [and] say something.”
Officials at the briefing listed a number of items that won’t be allowed past the security checkpoints at the Oval and Island/Lagoon, where revelers will have their bags checked and receive wristbands for those prime spectator areas.
Among the banned items are coolers on wheels; backpacks; weapons including pepper spray, firearms, sharp objects and personal fireworks; glass containers; cans; pre-mixed beverages; booze; propane tanks; drones; and bicycles, according to the event’s official website.
All liquids other than alcohol, which is strictly prohibited, will only be permitted if they’re kept in sealed clear plastic containers not to exceed two liters, according to the site. Grilling’s also prohibited.
A number of agencies, Bennett said, will be providing security, including State, Boston, and Transit police, the FBI, Boston fire, Cambridge police and fire, Boston EMS, the state Fire Marshal’s office, and the National Guard.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh also spoke and said the city “is excited for the 2018 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. ... There’s no better place to celebrate independence than where it all began.”
However, it’s illegal to celebrate by setting off fireworks in your neighborhood.
“Leave the fireworks to the professionals,” Walsh said, adding that police will be enforcing the state’s ban on individuals blasting off fireworks. “Because they’re dangerous and somebody could be hurt.”
He also urged attendees to drink plenty of water during the concert and fireworks display.
“Stay hydrated,” Walsh said, while advising the public to look out for elderly and homeless residents who made need assistance.
Also during the briefing, Pops conductor Keith Lockhart announced the star-studded lineup that will perform during the concert.
Acts include the Indigo Girls, Rita Moreno, Rhiannon Giddens, and Newton native Rachel Platten, whose ubiquitous “Fight Song” is a favorite of Lockhart’s 8-year-old child, he said.
But it was Giddens who got rise out of one member of the normally staid Fourth Estate. At the mention of the critically acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, one radio reporter burst into applause.
Her enthusiasm was matched by Lockhart, who said that with the concert, “we are trying to celebrate the elements that bring us together,” as well as the vital role “that immigration has played in this country.”
Also present at the briefing was Governor Charlie Baker, who touted the recent renovations to the Hatch Shell and also referenced “those who paid the ultimate price to preserve and protect our liberty” who are honored on Independence Day.
“It’s going to be a very hot night, and we hope everyone comes prepared,” Baker said.
Law enforcement personnel, both uniformed and in plain clothes, will certainly be prepared, according to Boston police Commissioner William B. Evans, who addressed a scrum of reporters after the briefing under the sweltering midday sun.
“We use a multi-layered approach,” Evans said. “The undercovers have eyes on you” and there will also be “a lot of bomb assets and technicians and everything else.”
He reiterated the mayor’s call for residents to avoid shooting off their own fireworks in the neighborhoods, where the pre-holiday blasts had already created a nuisance for many residents on Sunday night.
“Last night we were inundated with calls [for] fireworks,” Evans said. “I’ve seen kids lose their hands, I’ve seen eye injuries, you name it. ... We’ll have all kinds of extra resources to answer those party calls, as well as fireworks calls. ... It’s just about making the event safe here and in our neighborhoods.”