The most wonderful time of the year will inevitably bring with it sky-high security measures when Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center hosts its 84th annual New York City tree lighting on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. While large crowds and continuous tourism are considered the norm in the Big Apple, anti-Donald Trump protesters have introduced the city to a whole new set of regulatory issues — likely to rear their ugly head at the latest Norway Spruce’s Christmas inception.
Midtown’s Trump Tower is just a few blocks away from the holiday venue, which inevitably entails the unpredictability of the 58-story skyscraper’s doorstep occupants. The #NotMyPresident supporters have already adversely impacted New York City’s ebb and flow in the few weeks since the election.
Hate demonstrations and annual venues aren’t the only reasons travelers are flocking to the city. Libby Ward of Champlin, Minnesota, made it a point to pay a visit to Trump Tower during her three-hour layover in New York City, according to a piece in International Business Times on Nov. 27.
“I wanted to see all the security and everyone’s extreme opinions. It’s something worth seeing despite what politics you believe in. Now I can cross it off my bucket list.”
Since Donald Trump’s election on Nov. 8, the protests have resulted in increased violence — along with a decline in Fifth Avenue shopping revenue. The counterproductive protester backlash, paired with the constant threat of ISIS, has been the catalyst for heightened security measures by the New York Police Department (NYPD) — which has its Rockefeller Center work cut out for it this week.
The sheer appeal of the Christmas tree lighting, along with the thousands expected to occupy its surrounding areas, has resulted in several street closures — between 45th and 51st Streets from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue — from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., as NBC New York noted. Additionally, there will be a ban on carrying backpacks, umbrellas, and large bags. Law enforcement has also strongly advised against the use of mass transit.
Audience aside, this year’s 94-foot tree, grown in Oneonta, New York, will likely be very familiar to a certain high-profile agency by the end of its stay in January. To ensure the safety of Trump and his family, the Secret Service may take up residency in Trump Tower, turning two of its floors into “a 24-7 command post,” reported CNN on Nov. 26.
In terms of terrorism, New York City has been on high alert since Nov. 15, when the Department of Homeland Security posted a bulletin regarding the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — which ultimately went off without a hitch.
“Though we know of no intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations to attack the homeland, the reality is terrorist-inspired individuals have conducted, or attempted to conduct, attacks in the United States,” stated the FBI.
The upcoming Christmas season, which goes hand-in-hand with a boom in New York City’s already large population, further adds to the appeal of an Islamic State or al-Qaida attack. In yet another attempt at fueling Americans’ fear, ISIS posted a propaganda video that included an extremist zipping up his jacket over an explosive device in New York City. The footage was aimed at France, Italy, and the U.S.
Despite the drawing power of the Rockefeller Center tree lighting — or any other highly publicized event, for that matter — Mayor Bill de Blasio adamantly stated the city wouldn’t be scaling back on its customary activity.
“The people of New York City will not be intimidated. We understand it is the goal of terrorists to intimidate and disrupt our democratic society. We will not submit to their wishes,” the mayor said at a recent press conference.