New Bedford is ready to welcome back the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament for the first time since 2019, and Mayor Jon Mitchell said there will be “a big police presence” during the event, which runs from Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 7.

“There’s no particular security concern that we’re focusing on this year any more than any other year, but the police keep their ears to the ground and they will be fully staffed up around the event,” Mitchell said in his weekly appearance on WBSM Wednesday. “There will be a big police contingent there because these days you have to be careful.”

Mitchell said safety concerns with large crowds are hardly unique to New Bedford.

“You have to be careful around crowds these days. We’ve seen so many events around the world where people wanted to do harm to crowded areas,” he said. “So we’ll have a robust police presence there.”

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Mitchell said that “keeping an open channel of communication to the police will be important for intelligence-gathering purposes.”

“Again, this is just routine stuff these days,” he said.

He also noted that police will work to ensure that the crowds don’t get too large inside the feast pavilion during the musical performances.

“Just because we want there to be a little bit of space for people to come and go,” he said. “Things get too crowded, the crowds become harder to manage and the risks become elevated. The police will certainly monitor that.”

Mitchell said it’s worth noting the reputation the feast has as a safe, fun event that is a signature part of the city’s summer slate.

“I can remember, and a lot of people remember, a number of years where the feast was in decline, and things got a little rough there,” he said. “But the feast committee really took responsibility for the whole thing, in every respect, controlling the alcohol, making the place cleaner, working more closely with the police so it became again a family event and started really to grow to the point where we’re at now.”

Mitchell also cautioned feast goers this year to remain hydrated considering the high heat index for New Bedford over the next few days, with temperatures expected to feel like 100 degrees at times.

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