New York City's most liberal mayor in a generation marched Friday to enthusiastic cheers in the most conservative borough's historic July Fourth parade.

Bill de Blasio, following a mayoral tradition followed by several of his predecessors, spent Independence Day as the honored guest at Staten Island's Travis Parade, one of the nation's oldest such processions.

"This is clearly the Fourth of July at its best here," he said. He recounted how Benjamin Franklin and John Adams met on Staten Island on Sept. 11, 1776 with the British who sought the revolutionaries' surrender. They refused.

"It's not just parades, it's not just barbecues, it's not just time with family. It's a time to think about what this country's about, it's a time to remember the blessings of liberty that people fought for, for generations," he said. His own father lost part of a leg fighting in World War II.

De Blasio was joined by the Staten Island borough president and its district attorney, members of the City Council and State Legislature, the state attorney general, embattled Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) and others.

Grimm has been indicted on federal tax-fraud charges and earlier this year had to apologize for threatening to toss a reporter off a congressional balcony.

Before the parade, Grimm said: "I think on the Fourth of July everyone will be polite, but I wouldn't say it's friendly turf."