Lakeland Police step up security at holiday parade after San Bernardino shooting

Parade goers not worried about their safety

LAKELAND, Fla. - In the wake of the attack in California, there is a heightened sense of awareness in public places, but that doesn’t mean people don’t feel safe.

A little rain didn’t stop thousands of people from going to the Lakeland Christmas Parade Thursday night.

Police said they stepped up security with undercover officers along the parade route -- an officer on every corner and bomb sniffing dogs.

Even with the extra presence, all of the people ABC Action News spoke to said they were troubled by what happened in San Bernardino but weren’t worried it would happen to them.

“Not in Lakeland,”Shannon Ostojic said. “It makes you question going out into large crowds, and something like this (parade) restores your faith in humanity.”

A clinical psychologist in Tampa, Dr. Steven Walker, said that is exactly what he tells his patients.

“Everyone is hyper-vigilant that anyone who comes around now is a potential threat. And really, that is doing a disservice to people,” Walker said. This (attack) doesn't necessarily mean it is going to happen to you. But, we seem to be living in a culture where fear sells.”

Walker said he’s had an increase in patients who are worried about being in groups in public.

“A lot of them are afraid of just going out, a lot of them are afraid of being in a situation where they are sitting in a cafe and they get gunned down,” Walker said. “People are getting more anxious about any little thing happening.”

Walker said from a psychological perspective it is okay to have fears, but we should use that fear in a way that leads us all to be more rational.

Parade-goers didn’t need a psychologist to tell them it’s okay to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family.

“It gives us all an opportunity to appreciate one another and celebrate the opportunities we have,” Ostojic said. “It's a great way to kick off the holiday season.”

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