The Hometown Heroes Parade kicked off at 11am along a stretch of downtown Manhattan known as the Canyon of Heroes that stretches from Battery Park to City Hall.
The parade is the first the city has held in nearly two years and illuminated the stark difference in life in the Big Apple before and after widespread vaccination.
The ceremony was led by Grand Marshal Sandra Lindsay, the Queens nurse who was the first person in the United States to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot in December.
‘What a difference a year makes,’ Lindsay said. ‘Fifteen months ago, we were in a much different place but thanks to the heroic efforts of so many – health care workers, first responders, frontline workers, the people who fed us, the people who put their lives on the line, we can’t thank them enough.’
The World Trade Center is the backdrop to confetti that filled the Manhattan air during the ‘Hometown Heroes’ parade to celebrate essential workers on Wednesday
A parade attendee shows his appreciation for essential workers with a ‘Thank you NYC heroes’ sign during the ‘Hometown Heroes’ parade
The Hometown Heroes Parade kicked off at 11 a.m. on Wednesday along a stretch of downtown Manhattan known as the Canyon of Heroes that stretches from Battery Park to City Hall
Dancers put on a show for parade attendees on Wednesday during the The Hometown Heroes Parade in New York City
Confetti rains down on essential workers who were front and center during the Hometown Heroes Parade in Manhattan on Wednesday
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who promised a parade for essential workers when the pandemic was over back in April 2020, was in attendance
A group of young girls show their pride with American flags as they attend the Hometown Heroes Parade honoring essential workers
The parade featured 14 floats that represented 260 different groups of essential workers including first responders, healthcare workers, grocery and bodega staff, educators, sanitation, utility and transit workers and others.
A total of 2,500 people marched along ten marching bands who provided music to the festivities.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who promised a parade for essential workers when the pandemic was over back in April 2020, was in attendance, riding on a float with hospital employees and Mr. Met, the New York Mets mascot.
‘We’ve got a lot to appreciate, because we’re well underway in our recovery. We’ve got a lot to celebrate and we’ve got a lot of people to celebrate,’ de Blasio said. ‘They deserve a march down the Canyon of Heroes, because it’s something that is reserved for the greatest folks in history. Well, here are some of the folks who made history in New York City’s toughest hour.’
People came far and wide to participate in the festivities, including Justin Davis, a nurse who came from Pittsburgh to work at a Manhattan hospital during the height of the crisis last year, the Associated Press reported.
Davis told AP he was excited to be riding in the parade on a float sponsored by AMN Healthcare, the staffing company he works for.
‘I think it’s just going to be real cool,’ he said. ‘And hopefully it can just bring closure.’
Davis, a 43-year-old military veteran, left his wife and three young children behind to come to New York City when it was a pandemic epicenter, ‘because I wanted to do something to make my family proud.’
Davis attended the parade with his family who were excited to express their pride and gratitude to him and other essential workers, AP reported.
‘This is a huge thing,’ his wife Jennifer said. ‘This is awesome. We just had to come up here and be here for him, to support him and celebrate him.’
Grand Marshal Sandra Lindsay, the Queens nurse who was the first person in the United States to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot in December, waves to the adoring crowd
A parade attendee takes a moment to make a confetti angel on Wednesday as the city was in high spirits for the Hometown heroes parade
The ceremony was led by Grand Marshal Sandra Lindsay, the Queens nurse who was the first person in the United States to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot in December
Essential workers, joined by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, take in the cheering crowd on a float during the Hometown Heroes Parade
Parade attendees line up to honor the essential workers who helped guide New York City, which at one point was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic
In June Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted all remaining state restrictions after reaching the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the state’s adults.
Now, concerts, sports events and night clubs can resume normal operations without enforcing capacity limits, social distancing rules or vaccine passes, nor do they have to make people wear masks if they don’t want to.
Offices can resume operating at a 100 percent capacity with no social distancing rules.
The only rule that remains in place is the CDC’s rule for adults that says people have to wear masks on public transport whether they’re vaccinated or not.
Beyond that, vaccinated people can do what they want and unvaccinated people are being told to wear a mask, but it’s not a rule anywhere.
On Monday de Blasio proudly announced that the COVID-19 positivity test rate in the city fell to just one percent compared to the height of the crisis, which saw 71 percent of COVID-19 tests come back positive.
The drop has been due, in part, to increased and more widespread testing available for New Yorkers.
The Big Apple is reporting 214,061 cases of the virus and 18,596 deaths with an additional 4,605 probable deaths, according to government data from Monday.
Hospitalizations for the virus have also dramatically declined in the Big Apple.
‘At the height of this crisis we had 850 people admitted to the hospital for suspected COVID-19 in a single day, compare that to the 62 we had admitted today,’ De Blasio said.
‘At the height we had 71 percent testing positive compared to the one percent today, a lot to be proud of,’ he added summarizing Sunday’s data.
Monday also marks the start of New York City entering Phase 3 that will allow personal care services and more outdoor spaces up to open after being closed for months.
New York City has seen a total of 957,000 total cases of COVID and 33,438 deaths from the virus.
The city hit it’s peak in cases in April 2020.
During its worst two-week period, 74,223 New Yorkers were diagnosed with COVID, roughly one in every 114 New Yorkers, National Geographic reported.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, joined on a float by essential workers, is showered in confetti as the float made it’s way down the Canyon of Heroes
Parade attendees show off their messages of gratitude for the 2,500 marchers at the Hometown Heroes parade in New York City
New Yorkers showed their appreciation for essential workers, including healthcare workers and educators, during Wednesday’s ticker-tape parade
Confetti filled the Canyon of Heroes as essential workers were honored during Wednesday’s Hometown Heroes parade