GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- The celebration has started early in Grand Rapids with thousands of people downtown for the Amway Family Fireworks Spectacular. They're calling this year's celebration the biggest one ever and with that comes the need for increased security.
Fourth of July weekend is all about freedom, family, fireworks and food, but for Grand Rapids Police, it's more than that. With 75,000 people, police have a number of methods to keep everyone safe.
“We’ve increased the number of officers this year, added Segways, additional bike officers and different observation posts, officers that are in buildings looking down on the crowd able to call out any suspicious activity they see down on the ground" explained Captain Vincent Reilley from Grand Rapids Police.
Security concerns were on the minds of many due to the recent tragedy in Florida and other parts of the world.
“We have a tried and true security plan that we have used year after year that’s been proven to be very effective" said Reilley. "Because of the heightened security across the nation and the world we have modified that a bit, but we are sticking pretty close to our plan that we use every year and we’ve added personnel and we hope to have a good event.”
FOX 17 also talked with patrons who made their way downtown to see the fireworks light up the sky.
Everyone has their favorite things about the holiday, including 9-year-old Chase Snyder kept it his answer short and sweet.
"Spending time with your family," said Chase.
The anticipation of the fireworks show is pretty cool, especially for little ones who get to stay up well passed their bedtime.
5-year-old Theresa Elsbury shared with us her she passed the time amidst the excitement.
"I'm waiting to watch the fireworks and I was rolling down the hill," said Theresa.
Some fans viewed the fireworks show consistently for years. Dwayne Shustha attends the show every year.
“The whole weekend and the fireworks, the finale is usually really good" said Dwayne Shustha, who attends Grand Rapids' fireworks every year. "It blows your hair back and gives you sunburn,”said Shustha.
This many people in one confined area presents its own problems for police in Grand Rapids.
Captain Reilley said there haven't been any major problems so far, but he's expecting the usual issues like people bringing alcohol into the park or their own fireworks, but they are prepared for that.
People there say they've notice the increased police presence.
"They're making more effort than they ever did because normally there aren't a lot of police down here" said Aiyana Mitchell.
Safety is key to make sure everything goes smoothly and everyone has a good time.
"A lot of crime is happening, they have it secured everywhere and they're making sure everybody is safe" said Brekeia Robinson.
"Shout out to the Grand Rapids Police Department, even though I'm from Kentwood, shout out to y'all for keeping me safe" said Zacharia Richardson.
Keeping people safe so they can spend their time with family and friends.