Honoring Hometown Heroes: Watch the NYC essential workers ticker-tape parade

Coronavirus
Sandra Lindsay

Grand marshal Sandra Lindsay, a health care worker who was the first person in the country to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot, waves to spectators as she leads marchers through the Financial District during a parade honoring essential workers for their efforts in getting New York City through the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in New York. The parade kicked off at Battery Park and travel up Broadway in lower Manhattan, the iconic stretch known as the Canyon of Heroes, which has hosted parades honoring world leaders, celebrities and winning sports teams. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK — After a year unlike any other in American history, New York City threw its hallowed celebration for the New Yorkers that kept the city running during its most difficult months.

Watch the ticker-tape parade:

What is the event?

A ticker-tape parade is a New York City tradition used to honor or celebrate monumental achievements or welcome special, dignified guests to the City.

Floats pass through the Canyon of Heroes — the memorialized area of Lower Manhattan stretching from the Battery to City Hall.

Road closures, traffic, parking changes for ticker-tape parade

The first ticker-tape parade was in 1886 to honor the arrival of the Statue of Liberty, and more than 130 years later, the tradition continues for monumental achievements; the most recent was in 2019 to celebrate the World Cup victory by the U.S. Women’s National Team.

The unique celebration became a traditional celebration of triumph. In the past, fans threw large amounts of shredded paper (originally ticker tape, but not typically confetti) from nearby office buildings windows onto the parade route.

In past decades, popes, kings, queens, astronauts, and veterans have received similar treatment. For the thousands of fans and spectators that lined the way, they were witnessing history.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in April 2020 that this ticker-tape parade, however, will be “the greatest of all the parades because this one will speak to the rebirth of New York City.

“This parade will mark the beginning of our renaissance,” he said. “We will honor them as they deserve.”

During the early and brutal days of the COVID-19 pandemic, de Blasio promised the celebration would coincide with the city’s reopening.

“I want to guarantee you one thing. When that day comes that we can restart the vibrant beautiful life of the city again, the first thing we will do is we will have a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes for our health care workers and our first responders,” he said. “We will honor those who saved us.”

Then-President Donald Trump said the health care workers deserve it.

“They’re warriors,” he said. “They’ve done an incredible job.”

What happens afterward?

Tuesday, the mayor said the ceremony set to follow the parade would be scaled back; he said the reason for this was extreme heat in the forecast.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for New York City and areas north of the city, as well as much of New Jersey, lasting until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Temperatures were expected to rise into the mid-90s in the city and inland areas Wednesday, with humidity making it feel even hotter.

Instead of a ceremony, Mayor de Blasio greeted and saluted each float and groups of essential workers marching on the parade route.

“Instead of having a big ceremony at the end of the parade, we’ll have a stripped down version of that. We’ll be greeting the marchers in the parade, thanking them. Not a big ceremony, but the parade itself will be a central salute to our heroes,” the mayor said.

Who will be there?

Sandra Lindsay, the Queens nurse who became the first person in the U.S. to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, will lead the parade and serve as Grand Marshal (she worked and received her shot at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center); de Blasio will march alongside hospital workers.

The following groups of front-line workers will be on floats in a parade through the Canyon of Heroes, the half-mile stretch of Broadway, between Battery Park and City Hall:

  • Advocacy organizations
  • City workers
  • Educators
  • Emergency food providers
  • Faith leaders
  • First responders
  • Healthcare workers
  • Hospitality and buildings workers
  • Retail and bodega workers
  • Social service and settlement house workers
  • Transportation workers
  • Utilities workers

However, members of the EMS workers in Local 2507, which is in the middle of negotiations with the city, have said they are boycotting the parade, highlighting a push for more livable wages.

How can I watch?

You can watch the full parade in the video player above.

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