NYC Hometown Heroes Parade 7/7/21

As I have posted before, I was in NYC during the entire Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, and have blogged about what that was like (“Missing my city while still in it,” here) as well as about how things slowly came back to life after being shut down (like NYC museums). Although it is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment that NYC is back – and in some ways, it still isn’t – the Hometown Heroes parade a few days ago was a celebration of those essential workers who kept the city going while most of us were sheltering in place. Having a parade like that (my favorite sign said simply “We Did It”) was certainly the most joyous indication that NYC is feeling more like itself again, thanks to high vaccination rates and very effective vaccines.

The first person to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, Sandra Lindsay, was the parade grand marshal.

One of the things that kept bringing up emotion to me during the parade was in part due to seeing it from its starting point in Battery Park. During the most extreme lockdown, when New Yorkers were asked to stay at home except for exercise, I began biking along the Hudson River bike path from Hell’s Kitchen to Battery Park, walking around, and biking back. It was so rare to see anyone else that if I did pass another biker we would generally wave and acknowledge each other. More often than not, I was completely alone walking in Battery Park, gazing out to the Statue of Liberty and seeing signs that once would have been baffling about wearing a mask and keeping six feet apart. To be back in Battery Park in a crowd of vaccinated and unmasked fellow New Yorkers, celebrating those who kept the city going, was especially meaningful to me.

NYC’s reawakening has been gradual, and many new parks (like the Pier 26 ecopark and Little Island Park) have opened during the pandemic while familiar places like Lincoln Center have found new ways to reimagine old spaces. For me, NYC will truly be back once I am in a Broadway theatre (I have so many tickets already!), and that day is coming soon. But on July 7, I remembered all the times we clapped for our essential workers in isolation, hearing our fellow New Yorkers do the same from their own isolation – but as we clapped and cheered as the parade passed by, we were finally able to do it together again.

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