BOSTON (AP) — Amid high temperatures and heightened security, attendance appeared down yesterday at Boston’s Fourth of July celebration.
The crowds on the Charles River Esplanade seemed smaller than in recent years while a robust law enforcement presence greeted revelers gathering for a performance by the Boston Pops and the city’s fireworks display.
Organizers instituted a series of new security measures this year in the wake of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings — bag searches, limits on coolers and live video surveillance. Authorities have said they believe the marathon bombing suspects initially planned to target the Independence Day celebration.
As she pushed her 2-year-old daughter along the waterfront in a stroller in the afternoon, Sarah Imershein said she was disappointed by the low turnout.
“It feels like there’s more military and police here than people,” the Brookline woman said.
“I think the rules were really hard to understand on what you could bring, so I think people just didn’t come. Too many rules, man. It’s Independence Day,” she said.
Gov. Deval Patrick pinned much of the blame for lower turnout on temperatures that climbed into the 90s.
“I think the heat probably thinned the crowd,” Patrick said. “I had a look from the air ... the outline of the shade is the outline of the crowd.”
More than 100 people were treated for heat-related problems and three were sent to hospitals, according to the city health department.
The evening included one surprise: a guest conductor appearance by Richard Donohue, the transit police officer wounded in a shootout with two men suspected in the bombing. Donohue led the Boston Pops in a rendition of “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys. He got a standing ovation his efforts.