December 31st, 2010
04:30 PM ET

Stray backpack reminds Times Square revelers of omnipresent security concerns

Jim Spellman
CNN All Platform Journalist

Times Square, New York (CNN) - The crowd in Times Square is peaceful and the whole event is extremely well organized, but New York City in the post 9-11 world can still be a tense place.

Around 3:30 in the afternoon police spot a man in the crowd wearing a backpack and pull him from the crowd. Backpacks are not allowed in the crowd, but somehow he got past the screening and was standing about 20 yards from the stage.

The man had a long beard and was wearing kaffiyeh, the scarf often worn in Middle Eastern countries.

In a minute or less, a dozen NYPD officers surrounded the man and searched his backpack. Police radios crackled and the crowds craned their necks for a peep.

"Is he a terrorist?," one person in the crowd whispered.

His backpack holds a sweatshirt and some books. A sigh of relief goes through the crowd as the police give him back his backpack and escort him outside the security perimeter.

The crowd goes back to laughing and partying, but despite the good cheer evident in the crowd, it's hard to forget that we'll face many of the same issues in 2011 that we have in 2010.

Filed under: Jim Spellman • New Year's Eve 2011
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