By Derrick Blakley

CHICAGO (CBS) – McCormick Place is nearly ready to welcome the world to Chicago.

Foreign reporters were just beginning to arrive Thursday, as crews put the final touches on the lakefront convention hall.

Inside the giant media center, work crews swept the rugs, while technicians checked out Internet connections for almost 1,400 work stations, where reporters from across the globe will file their stories about this weekend’s NATO summit.

Among them will be Danish television newsman Olav Christensen, who says NATO member Denmark wants to know when their role in Afghanistan will end.

“For a small country, we’ve suffered a lot of casualties there. We have 42 dead in Afghanistan, which may not to American ears sound like a lot. But we have a population half the size of Chicago, so it means a lot to us,” Christensen tells CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley.

Meantime, security teams, including ATF sniffer dogs, are ramping up their vigilance. Dog handler Sheila Fry and her 4-year-old black lab were checking everything from cars to flower pots.

“They’re amazing. They can detect trace quantities of explosives, so it doesn’t need to be hardly anything there, just something that’s even been exposed to explosive odor,” Fry said.

All the preparations aimed at pulling off a secure conference that presents Chicago’s best face to the world.

“It’s a lovely city. What strikes me is the beautiful skyline, also how clean it is. I’m very impressed, and the friendliness of the people — it’s a lovely city you have here,” Christensen said.

Words like that should make Mayor Emanuel smile.

By the way, at least six of those ATF sniffer dog teams will be on duty here, and they’ve got plenty of experience at big events. Fry alone has worked the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, PGA tournaments and presidential inaugurations.

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