NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The New Orleans Pride Festival kicks off Friday, and the massacre in Orlando is top of mind for organizers and the N.O.P.D. They've ramped up protection as the LGBT community remembers lives lost.
"The parade will be coming down Bourbon Street. This is home base of the festival, " said Darren Mills of the Bourbon Pub.
Rainbow flags fly as bar owners plan to increase security. The changes are fresh off the Orlando tragedy that rocked the gay community.
"We implemented a policy in our bar that there are no oversized bags, no backpacks, we're doing door checks so people feel comfortable and safe. Everybody is a little on edge," Mills said.
On edge about the shooting at Pulse and the Indiana man found with a weapons heading to L.A.'s Pride Fest hours later, organizers have heavy hearts but remember what the festival means.
"For Pride, we have to come back with the same resiliency we have with everything. So rather than cowering, we have to show force and stand strong," Mills said.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison says his department is ready.
"There are well over 100 officers in French Quarter assigned every day. Those officers are working Friday, Saturday and Sunday from day shift to evening shift," he said.
He says the department has plain clothes officers looking to identify a problem before there is one. He says he's been in meetings with federal and state law enforcement as thousands of revelers pour into the city.
"We have our Swat Team and our Gang unit and Rapid Response Teams from around the city .
A peaceful weekend is all revelers can hope for, as they remember how a gunman tried to tear their community apart.
"Now there's a heavy cloud over the festivities," Mills said. "In our own way each will be paying tribute."