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St. Pete and Tampa promise 'huge' security presence for July 4th celebrations

The deadly parade shooting near Chicago is not changing plans around Tampa Bay, where local leaders say security is already heightened.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The St. Petersburg Police Department says it will have a "huge" presence at Monday's downtown Independence Day celebration. And, Tampa police will, too, at "Boom by the Bay."

The Fourth at St. Pete Pier is expected to draw large crowds. The event will feature food trucks, a beer garden, vendors, roaming entertainers and live music.

The celebration is scheduled to culminate in a large fireworks show at 9 p.m. Monday. The pyrotechnics will be visible from the entire waterfront, including Vinoy Park, Straub Park and Bayshore Drive.

Asked if the city would be beefing up security following the deadly parade shooting in Illinois, St. Pete Police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez said local authorities always step up security this time each summer.

"We have a HUGE presence of officers due to the large crowds we get for the 4th of July every year," Fernandez told 10 Tampa Bay in an email. "We have also been monitoring all intelligence reports statewide and federally."

At a news conference ahead of the "Boom by the Bay" fireworks, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor had a similar stance – indicating the Tampa Police Department always prepares for worst-case scenarios in high-profile events like this one. Mayor Castor called what happened in Illinois an "incredible tragedy" that is not changing the already-heightened security presence in Tampa.

The mayor confirmed security preparations had been long-underway for Monday night's festivities, with law enforcement present on both the land and in the water. She said residents would see plenty of security, adding that there would be many undercover officers among the crowds of people. Cameras were also deployed around Tampa to help identify any potential suspicious behavior early.

Although the mayor said the city had already taken every step to ensure safety, she knows the shooting in Illinois will be at the top of everyone's mind.

"The safety is everyone's responsibility," Mayor Castor said. "We need the community to be the eyes and ears of our first responders."

The shooting happened in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, killing multiple people and injuring several more. Shots rang out about 10 minutes after the parade began, sending hundreds of paradegoers running away franticly. 

At one point, police protecting the Illinois event told people: "Everybody disperse, please. It is not safe to be here."

Click here for the latest updates from the Chicago area.

RELATED: 'Mass chaos': Police say 6 dead after shooting at Chicago suburb's July 4 parade

RELATED: Boom by the Bay 2022: Where to park, road closures and more to keep in mind

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