Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News
Thousands of people attending the JFK remembrance in Dealey Plaza Friday will not be able to take umbrellas, for safety reasons organizers will provide ponchos. Meanwhile last minute preparations are under way in Dallas.
Dealey Plaza has been crowded with more visitors than usual this week in advance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Although official numbers will not be available until the end of the month, the Sixth Floor Museum has reported a significant attendance increase over November of last year.
Along with visitors from the United States, there has also been a noticeable increase in foreign visitors and journalists, according to Carol Murray, a museum spokeswoman.
Those visitors are eagerly joining the crowds outside, proud to be here during the landmark anniversary.
"Everyone knows JFK," said a tourist from Montreal.
"This is an historical site and we wanted to see, with our eyes, what happened 50 years ago," an Italian journalist told NBC DFW.
Aleksei Gagan, a businessman from St. Petersburg, Russia, planned his entire two-week visit to America so that he would be in Dallas on Nov. 22.
"I wanted to see this historical site in Dallas, see this for myself," Gagan said, moments before purchasing his ticket for the Sixth Floor Museum.
Many Americans are also making specific plans to be in Dallas for the anniversary.
"To me, it's probably one of, if not the most, interesting thing that's happened in U.S. history," said Doug Grooms, of Lebanon, Tenn., who added he made his plans to attend six years ago.
Camera in hand, Michael Hobson, of Kennett Square, Pa., said he would not have missed the anniversary for anything.
"It is not a coincidence [my being here.] Believe it or not, today is my 50th birthday, so being born around the time of the assassination, I have always had a fascination with it," he said. "I think 50 years after, there's still a tremendous amount of questions surrounding the whole incident: What happened? What didn't happen? Who's responsible? Who's not responsible?"
Kim Sullivan, of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that half of the 5,000 with tickets for the Friday morning anniversary service in Dealey Plaza are from outside of the North Texas area.
Some roads and buildings are being closed on Thursday as the city finalizes preparations.
Houston Street is in the final stages of being converted into a two-way street, like it was 50 years ago when JFK’s motorcade turned onto Houston before making the fateful trip down Elm Street. For decades, Houston Street has been one-way traffic. Street crews are putting the finishing touches on the roadway before the switch.