Feast of the Blessed Sacrament taking steps to bolster security

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Each year, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament gets bigger and bigger and that means more security measures need to be taken to keep revelers safe.

Organizers said they are changing some security procedures for this weekend’s event, which attracts more than 100,000 people to New Bedford.

“I think in our crazy world that any large event could be a target and we take that seriously,” said Steven Duarte, President of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament 2017.

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This year, Duarte said organizers have brought all the groups to the table before the big feast, which is in its 103rd year.

“We met four times. We had give and take. So, if the carnival had a question with the police or fire and vice versa with the carnival, everyone is there and we’re able to walk the grounds and look at the security and hear what we need to do,” Duarte said.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said the city and organizers have taken note of terror attacks around the world and have adjusted accordingly.

“We need to avoid having vehicles enter the feast grounds because some of the risks that have played out in Europe. So, we’re taking extra precautions in that area,” Mitchell said.

In addition, attendees are not allowed to bring coolers, backpacks or large bags. They are also subject to search.

Visitors to the feast may notice some extra police presence with the return of the carnival, but for the most part, organizers said it’s business as usual.

“I’ve got three grandsons and I feel safe having them here at the carnival and here at the feast,” Duarte said.

WPRI 12 and FOX Providence are media sponsors of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, which runs from Thursday to Sunday.