BOSTON (AP) - Most days in Boston, a visit from the president would be more than enough excitement.
Throw in Game 6 of the World Series, and a chance for the Red Sox to win it all at Fenway Park and you have an extraordinary challenge for local police - and motorists trying to navigate Boston's already congested streets.
The Red Sox were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night with a chance to win their third World Series in less than a decade and first at home since 1918. Hours earlier, President Barack Obama delivered a talk on his embattled health care reform.
Obama was expected to be out of town an hour before the game begins, and officials say they're prepared for any postgame celebration later in the evening if the Red Sox win.
"We're always worried we might have a couple of knuckleheads who want to cause trouble," said Boston Mayor Tom Menino. "So we're going to be out there doing our job."
Police and bomb-sniffing dogs swept through Fenway as hundreds of fans began to gather outside in the afternoon. Scores of officers stood outside the park, directing traffic, giving directions to fans and standing ready for what was likely to be a long night.
Boston has hosted several celebrations over the last decade as the Celtics, Patriots, Bruins and Red Sox have all won titles since 2004, but some of the post-championship partying has caused problems. In 2004, a 21-year-old college student was killed by a pepper pellet fired by Boston police during crowd-control efforts following the Red Sox win in the American League Championship Series. In 2008, a 22-year-old man died after police took him into custody during street celebrations of the Celtics' title.
Police Superintendent-in-chief Daniel Linskey said the department has adjusted its tactics in order to keep crowds at more manageable sizes and keep the overall temperature of the event down. For instance, police won't wear riot gear, but will instead mix with the crowd in regular uniforms, explaining why certain restrictions are in effect. (Click here to see Game 6 and Game 7 parking restrictions in Boston)
We're going to try and engage the crowd and make them be partners with us," he said.
Police also would limit crowds near the park by forbidding any entry into Fenway and the surrounding streets after the seventh inning, Linskey said.
The April bombing of the Boston Marathon will prompt deployment of extra dogs and undercover officers, as well as officers trained to spot suspicious behavior, Police Commissioner Edward Davis said.
For the citizens of Red Sox Nation, the extra security, the traffic and the closed streets are a small price to pay for baseball glory.
Chris LeBlanc of Glocester, R.I., skipped class last spring to watch the Red Sox's season opener. On Wednesday he was at Fenway with his father Michael, hoping to score tickets.
Despite a dismal 2012 season LeBlanc, 18, said he always felt good about the team's chances this year. "I was optimistic," he said.
Michael LeBlanc, 45, shook his head and smiled. He remembers well the decades of disappointment, the talk of curses and the blown chances. He knows what a treat it is to have a shot at three World Series wins in a decade.
"He doesn't know how good he has it," he said.
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