Police Barriers and Large Thanksgiving Crowds Thwart Walks for 60 Dogs, Business Owner Says

By Lisa Kava

While masses of crowds have excitedly descended upon the Upper West Side in anticipation of the annual float inflation for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the festivities can prove to be problematic for some local business owners and residents.

For security and crowd-control reasons, balloon inflation viewers were being routed to West 73rd Street as a pathway towards Central Park West to watch the balloon inflation. But Tania Isenstein, the owner of Camp Canine, a dog day care and boarding facility at 46 West 73rd Street says that police informed her of a “pedestrian freeze” on the block and that she and her employees are not allowed to walk any dogs on the sidewalk on West 73rd Street.

Isenstein said she has 60 dogs boarding with her, and they all needed walks on Wednesday. She told West Side Rag that she was not provided with any notice of the freeze. According to Isenstein, two different officers as well as an NYPD supervisor told her that pedestrians are simply not allowed to walk on that block at all and that in order to walk the dogs she must pass through a large crowd on the corner of Columbus Avenue and 73rd Street to get to a different street. Isenstein says walking the dogs through a crowd of “hundreds of people at that corner” is simply impossible.

“This is one of our busiest nights of the year here at Camp Canine. All the dogs need walks,” said Isenstein. “The police officers stationed at the end of our block informed us that we would not be allowed to walk the dogs on our own block due to a pedestrian freeze. Their supervisor confirmed this. Further, they refused to clear a path for us to cross the crowd of hundreds. Not only is this unreasonable but we were not notified at all about this so that we could plan for it. I’m not sure what we will do.”

But the commanding officer of the 20th precinct told us that there simply isn’t room on a night like this to walk 60 dogs on a block that is also the entrance to the balloon inflation route.

“We are sorry for the obvious frustration that Ms. Isenstein has, but between 300K and 500K people will filter down that block tonight, and the restrictions in place to accommodate them take precedent over other competing concerns,” wrote Deputy Inspector Timothy Malin in an email response to West Side Rag. “To be clear, not only was the Macy’s Balloon Inflation plan widely available in the media, but it is the exact same plan that was employed last year. So I’m not sure why she did not know about it.”

NEWS | 20 comments | permalink
    1. Neighbor says:

      At least the sidewalks on 73rd will be poop & piddle free tonight.

    2. Diane says:

      How did she not know there would be thousands of people in her sidewalk? It was in the West Wise Rag yesterdsy. I.agree that the police shouldn’t have to clear the way for the dogs to go for a walk.

      • Teddy says:

        That’s the Thanksgiving spirit!

      • Doggy compassion says:

        It was much more crowded than last year — last year, you did have to come down 73rd Street to CPW, but the crowds didn’t start until north of 74th Street. We came at the same time this year, and the crowds went 2/3 of the way down 73rd Street, and then up CPW all the way from 73rd. So she may have been freer to walk the dogs last year.

    3. Billy Amato says:

      Hooray for the New York City Police Department what a fantastic job they did in controlling this mass hysterical people.
      I live on W. 80th St. and it was so quiet!!!!

      Thank you!

    4. HelenD says:

      There are barriers clearly shown in the photo. Weren’t people who lived and worked on 73rd allowed to go in and out of their own apts/businesses on the sidewalk? If so, then couldn’t the dogs have headed in the opposite direction? I don’t understand why it was necessary for them to Columbus to be walked.

    5. Deb says:

      Isn’t it possible to use another street for the entrance to the balloon inflation route?

      Also perhaps the CC owner could explain a little better how she had no notice, when it’s the same protocol as last year.

    6. UWS resident & patron says:

      Why were residents and businesses on 73rd street held hostage? Who would ever think that people would be not permitted to access their home and/or business? Given the actual Street was used by NYPD for the balloon inflation attendees AND the sidewalks were barricaded off why weren’t residents & business owners permitted to use sidewalks to access their homes & businesses? Seems like an easy, mutually agreeable solution! The neighborhood should not need to suffer from these events and care should be taken to minimize the impact. Win-win all around!

      Is Macy’s aware of the impact? I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy to be subjected to same treatment nor would they want their customers inconvenienced.

      • Deputy Inspector Malin says:

        Let’s clarify: Of course residents were allowed to access their homes and businesses. But no groups are permitted to loiter on the sidewalks, because they choke the very limited space. And there simply is not room to accommodate 60 dogs on that block. The bottom photo in the story perfectly illustrates that.

        • allie says:

          @ Deputy Inspector Malin:
          Yes, let’s clarify. The picture you referenced shows an obvious and perfect solution for both crowd control and dog walkers and other block residents. I see barriers on both the north and south sides of 73rd Street with a HUGE area in the middle. The police could EASILY open the one section of barrier in front of Camp Canine, allowing the dogs to be walked separately from or thru the crowds. Having lived thru this mass invasion torture on 76th St for 30 years, I can say with conviction that the only inconvenience might be to the 1 police officer assigned to the open barrier to only allow dogwalkers through and back. Having observed groups of police simply “hanging out” in that middle section, I’m sure 1 less group kibbitzer would be a drain on man or woman power.
          @Tania…..complaints and request for resolution now to 1 Police Plaza, the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs, and Macy’s Executive Offices…..and again next August, since people tend to have short memories about what they don’t want to promise in the first place.

          • NotImpressed says:

            It doesn’t give me much confidence that NYPD couldn’t allow dogs to be walked on an empty, barricaded sidewalk.
            We all get it, we have to make accommodations for large events in NYC. But residents and employees need to be able to do basic things on their own street.

    7. Ladybug says:

      Never mind the dogs – although I too experienced issues in taking my pooch for a walk – there is no respect for the residents of the neighborhood!!! On I believe last Thursday night am 1:30 am the police were dragging – yes dragging- the metal barricades from the west side of Columbus to the east side of the avenue – if they’re going to do set up in the middle of the night at least pick up the barricades – the noise created is like a fingernail on a chalk board amplified at least 1000 times. Shame on you 20 for not coordinating the activities better for your constituency!!! 😱😤😥😥😡😓

    8. Taryn Cooper says:

      I highly doubt this protocol was in place last year. While I understand the reasons behind it, it is absolutely ridiculous the amounts of security that has impacted not only our personal lives ( simply walking to places of residence) and professional (I, too, am a dog walker, and unfortunately dogs do need to be walked even in high pedestrian and touristy areas). Ten years ago, the amounts of security was reasonable and you could work around them. Now, it’s like Hotel California: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Again, i understand that security measures need to be tightened up as any a-hole with an agenda can start something. But this no pedestrian area is new. I stand with Camp Canine.

    9. Robert Sheridan says:

      The city has no problem collecting onerously large amounts of taxes and fees from such storefront businesses (and most others).

      The “Quid pro Quo” (to coin a phrase) . . . should be that they don’t then one-sidedly, like some bully, shut down their ability to function which the city has granted in return for a hard dollar fee that it has extracted in taxes and fees.

      Another example of cluelessly oppressive government. No doubt the proprietor should have thought ahead but there is no indication here that the NYPD had built in adequate flexibility for locals when such situations arise. Surely some mutual accommodation could have been worked out.

    10. John says:

      If you really care about the environment you would not have a dog or cat.

    11. BJK says:

      I can understand Camp Canine’s frustration because the police failed to control sidewalk traffic in and around the entrance to the inflation. I tried to walk my dog at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon and it was impossible to walk east on 72nd Street; there was a mass of human movement only one way (west to get to the inflation entrance) and I couldn’t physically walk my dog in the opposite direction—all while police were present and staring at (but not doing anything about) the one-way traffic flow.

      I know this is a major event and it’s a one-off annual thing for this neighborhood, but police must assure safety for local residents (including business residents) while accommodating such non-resident rushes—they gave no consideration to the former in this case.

    12. Mark says:

      I will take dogs over tourists any day.

    13. Joanne - Thanksgiving Scrooge says:

      Upper West Side residents are constantly inconvenienced. I had to scramble to get my dog to the park for her Wednesday evening walk. There is also the Climate Change March, the Women’s March, etc. Why is everything on the Upper West Side? Then again, I know the East Side has to deal with the St. Patty’d Day and Puerto Rican Day parades also. Can’t they move all these events to less residential neighborhoods? We pay residential NYC taxes and should have full access to our neighborhoods’ parks and streets.

    14. Phyllis s says:

      I agree with camp canine. I understand security, crowd control etc… BUT many people still need to LIVE HERE…. and pets need access tonOUR sidewalks. This has gotten way out of hand! Years ago it was a nice neighborhood event… a hot chocolate aT la fortuna a walk around the balloons. Now it’s a circus.

    15. Woody says:

      The balloons should be inflated in Central Park and exit to CPW via either 72nd or 66th if there’s a way to get enough clearance.