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Enhanced Security For Emancipation Day, Following Boston Explosions

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The White House was closed to pedestrian traffic Monday as enhanced security measures were put in place.
Armando Trull
The White House was closed to pedestrian traffic Monday as enhanced security measures were put in place.

The celebration of Emancipation Day is going forward in the District. But after the explosions in Boston on Monday, D.C. officials say enhanced security will be in place, some visible, some not.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said yesterday at a press conference that authorities are well-prepared to defend residents and visitors to the District, and there will be no changes to plans for the day.

"We hope people will continue to come down and engage in this important celebration — the 151st celebration of the emancipation of 3,100 slaves in the District of Columbia," Gray said. "So right now we plan to go forward, just like we planned prior to this incident in Boston."

D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton says that, based on security briefings she has gotten, she is confident.

"I think we are in a very good position to protect ourselves. And the last thing we're going to tolerate in this city is barricading us again the way they did after 9/11. That is not the professional way to protect us."

On Monday, the Secret Service wasted no time expanding the security perimeter around the White House, especially after Pennsylvania Avenue, following the events in Boston.

The area, which has been closed to vehicular traffic, was closed to pedestrians between 15th and 17th Streets shortly after 4 p.m. Monday. Authorities stress that although there was no specific threat to the White House, the enhanced security was ordered out of an abundance of caution following the explosions at the Boston Marathon.

"We hadn't heard the news. We stopped to ask directions but someone said,' Well yeah, but you can't get close to it today because it's blocked up due to what happened in Boston,'" says Michelle Siderius, visiting from Missouri with her family. "I kind of wish our world wasn't coming to this."

Lafayette Place to the north and the Ellipse below the South Lawn remain open, albeit saturated with heavily-armed police, bike patrol and uniformed Secret Service.

People are encouraged to head downtown for the events today, but are urged to remain vigilant.

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