A city showed its thanks to the heroes of the last 17 months through an extravagant parade Wednesday, July 7.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the term essential worker was coined and healthcare professionals, supermarket employees, educational staff, firefighters, and more were elevated to hero status. Now, as the Big Apple emerges from the ashes of the worst global health crisis in over a century, a who’s who of elected officials lined up to demonstrate their gratitude in front of a legion of television cameras and a roaring crowd of supporters.
The parade, dubbed “Hometown Heroes,” was the largest ticker-tape parade to grace New York City in history and the first procession in almost two years. Kicking off at 11 a.m. in Battery Park, the event was helmed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane Irene McCray, and the parade’s grand marshal Sandra Lindsay, a Queens nurse who was the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
While several politicians including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and Democrat primary mayoral candidate Eric Adams extended their arms in gratitude, the eyes of the city were firmly set on the cavalcade of essential workers who kept the city going through the harshest of times.
Plumes of confetti bursted through the air from a convoy of 14 floats and rained from high rising buildings and down onto about 260 varying workers who drove and marched through the Canyon of Heroes, stretching along Broadway from Battery Park to City Hall.
“Let’s thank our health care heroes! You guys are amazing! Thank you to the nurses, thank you to the doctors, thank you to the technicians — everybody who made the hospitals work during the crisis, you are our heroes. Thank you,” de Blasio said as Mount Sinai and other hospital workers marched past a stage with a sign reading, “No stopping New York.”
The echoing sound of drums, bagpipes, horns, and musical performances by more than 10 bands resounded through the streets as essential workers marched through Broadway to the delight of thousands of spectators.
Members of various union groups such as 32BJ, 1199, NYSNA, as well as mascots Mr. and Mrs. Met threw their hands in the air and shouted for joy as they showed their pride for their heroes. Additionally, staff members from local medical facilities such as St. John’s Episcopal Hospital — the only hospital located on the Rockaway, Queens peninsula aiding well over 130,000 residents that was one of the first hospitals in Queens County to receive a COVID-19 patient.
“All right everybody, one big round of applause for our hometown heroes,” de Blasio said, adding, “Everybody, we love our hometown heroes!”
Due to the sweltering 91-degree heat, the mayor modified the event’s schedule, forgoing the celebratory ceremony at City Hall Plaza. However, that did not stop hundreds upon hundreds from braving the heat to say thank you.