Nashville's biggest New Year's Eve party is getting extra security this year: The 100,000 people expected to attend the celebration on Bicentennial Mall will have to pass through metal detectors for the first time.
But the biggest threat organizers see to event-goers isn't terrorism or a gunman — it's the weather.
Safety is always a top concern for planners of big events, but that concern was heightened even more this year — especially after the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, which hit close to home in Nashville.
"It just makes you dig a little deeper, think a little harder, and maybe write one more check," says Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., which organizes the New Year's bash.
In addition to the metal detectors, the Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight celebration will also have more police officers and security guards on site than ever before — 600 in total. These people will be strict about turning away weapons, backpacks and coolers.
In previous years, Spyridon says, "We might inspect a backpack but let it in. Now we're not letting it in. Now we have metal detectors. Now we have more security. Just everything is exponential."
Last year, the gathering was moved from Broadway to Bicentennial Mall, which has security benefits: It is easier to secure a park than a busy commercial street with tall buildings surrounding it.
But with temperatures expected to get below freezing on Sunday night, the weather is also a public safety concern.
The organizers are adding extra tents with heaters in them, Spyridon says, and lowering the price of coffee and hot chocolate to $1. And he issues this advice to revelers: Consider wearing something warmer than party clothes.
"Dress for the weather. Don't dress for New Year's Eve."