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Oswego increases security in preparation of Harborfest

Takashi Nishimura

Harborfest, an annual four-day event that brings more than 100,000 people to the city of Oswego, begins Thursday.

The Oswego Police Department says they are beefing up patrols to prepare for the influx of people and to try to keep everyone safe, but Police Chief Tory DeCaire says they always need extra help.

"We rely heavily on outside agencies and the law enforcement assistance that they provide," DeCaire explained. "We are going to have officers on foot, on bike, on ATVs, as well as marked police cars, and officers detailed at specific venues."

Police and city officials, including the city's Mayor Tom Gillen, says there isn't going to be a major overhaul in policies for Harborfest, just a normal increase in security.

"We expect this to be another wonderful family event, but we plan for just in case something happens that's bad," Gillen said. "So, we're pretty good at this. We've got it down pretty good to control crowds, and quite honestly, the temper of the attendees has changed over the years. It's more family-based. We're working hard at making it so you want to bring your young kids to these events."

Gillen says although Harborfest brings large crowds to the city, it's a far different event than the unsanctioned student pub crawl known as the Bridge Street Run, held in May. Many public officials believe the B.S.R. got out of hand with a couple students getting injured and three people overdosing on heroin, including one who died. In the wake of B.S.R, Oswego city leadership has contemplated how to better deal with large events. Thousands of people did gather in Oswego for July 4th fireworks, with no incident.

"We've got everything covered, in terms of providing ambulance, fire, police, security, traffic control," Gillen said. "But there could be an incident that we need to resolve, but our people plan on that."

Harborfest kicks off Thursday and ends on Sunday.