Security tight as thousands gather for Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Thousands of worshippers celebrated Christmas Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan amid stepped up security measures.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan did not attend as he was sick with the flu, and Bishop John O'Hara from the New York Archdiocese substituted.

While officials stress there are no credible threats in our area, security was tight on Christmas Eve as many gathered for church services and midnight Mass.

The NYPD is employing what they call a full counter terrorism overlay all across Midtown, with officers radiation detectors and bomb sniffing dogs on virtually every corner, mingling with tens of thousands who are celebrating Christmas.

There was both faith and fear outside St. Patrick's Cathedral, with tourists from across the planet celebrating Mass while also concerned about the threat of terror.

"I was going to see the ball drop New Year's Eve, but just to be in that crowd after what has happened in Vegas and then what happened here in New York recently, I said I'm not going to go in that crowd," said Rhonda Mack, of Marietta, California. "But I'm going to do it anyway."

Among the added security measures are restricting trucks through parts of Midtown and on both Fifth and Madison Avenues.

"This is not the New York that I knew as a little girl," said Shelly Stone, of Brooklyn. "I mean, the barricades, it's very sad."

Mahjooba Bianchi speaks Farsi and English, but she doesn't want to raise any suspicion.

"So we're going to avoid talking in our native language, just to make sure," she said. "We're extra cautious. Yeah, we're a little worried. But with extra security, I think everything should be fine."

Many Midtown streets will close during services as another layer of protections as the faithful inside prayed for a quiet holy night. The NYPD says there are no credible threats this holiday weekend, but they're taking extra precautions nonetheless.

Earlier, authorities outlined other measures that will be in place. Major gateways into the city overseen by the MTA or Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will also see heightened security, and any truck or car during the coming holiday weeks is subject to being stopped.
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Sandra Bookman reports from Midtown.

Rolling out additional security measures police from various agencies will use new radiation detection devices and even explosive detection K-9 teams hoping to stop any potential danger at bridges and tunnels.

"Given the recent events. we believe it is prudent to increase security at the major crossings and the major transportation hubs," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses security concerns in New York City for the holiday season

More security is visible at busy Grand Central Terminal, where MTA Police stepped up their K-9 patrols as they see an increase in travel and customers.

"This is the right thing to do," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said. "Our experience that we have had in the last week or two and what we see throughout the world, this is the right time to do this."

At a checkpoint,on the RFK Bridge, drivers didn't seem to mind.

"They are doing what they have to do," one driver said.

And at JFK and LaGuardia airports, the Port Authority Police will also add to their security defenses.

"Our airports are gateways to the metropolitan area, to New York State, to New York City," Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. "We want visitors, travelers to feel safe."
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