Security beefed up for Mag Mile Lights Festival

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Safety is a concern for the nearly 1 million people expected to gather for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on Saturday.

Authorities say there is no specific threat targeting the event, but extra steps will be taken to keep everyone safe.

Chicago police officers were out walking the beat Thursday night, but come Saturday, they'll be dozens more along the Mag Mile.

"I think they'll do their job well. And, honestly, I prefer there be more supervision than not!" said Sara Beth Hatteberg, in town from Dallas.

Security gates will go up soon, and festival organizers say its possible police will search bags.

"I don't have anything to hide - so just kind of - here you go!" said Lydia Jones.

"Public safety is our No. 1 priority," said Daniel Thomas, Magnificent Mile Lights Festival co-chair. "There will obviously be police present, both uniformed and non-uniformed. But I think the best bit of advice is, if you see something along the route, say something."

So while you're enjoying the fun, officers in everyday clothes and special units will be patrolling the festivities.

"I'm really excited! I came from Texas. I love the Lights Festival!" said Jordan Hoover.

Every year, the Lights Festival is a way to jump-start the shopping season and ring in the holidays. This year, people plan to go, but may take a different approach.

"I think I'm definitely going to let my parents know where I am. Let my family know, and just kind of have a plan ready. But other than that, I'm not going to let anything affect how I live my life," said Kira Manzo.

"You just don't let yourself think about things like that. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. You can't shield yourself inside your home forever," said Jean Balch.

Not when all this is happening on the Mag Mile - with extra security - and people ready to celebrate the holidays.

"We are going to live our lives regularly. We are going to be here. We hope everything is going to be well," Frange said.

More than a million lights on 200 trees will be illuminated on Saturday night as the festival kicks off.

If you can't make it downtown, you can watch the magic unfold live on ABC7 starting at 6 p.m.
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