The Hometown Heroes Parade marched up the Canyon of Heroes Wednesday, giving people across the city the opportunity to say thank you to all the essential workers who kept New York going through the darkest days of the pandemic. 

“It’s like a big hug from New York, so thank you” said Sandra Lindsay, grand marshal of the parade. 

Lindsay, an ICU nurse and director for critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Glen Oaks, was the first person in the U.S. to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Her role in the celebration served as a nod to the health care workers who braved the frontlines of the crisis.

“Thank you to the nurses. Thank you to the doctors. Thank you to the technicians [and] everybody who makes the hospitals work" said Mayor Bill de Blasio from a parade float.

The crowds along the parade route were relatively thin amid a recovery that’s still picking up steam, particularly when compared with the last ticker-tape parade held in 2019 for the World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. 

The office buildings that create the canyon feel are not yet filled with the workers who normally help cheer along the route, serving as a reminder of how much further the city still has to recover.

"Our department suffered 57 losses and you think about the families and many others that were sick for an extended period of time, so it's a day to kind of think back" said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.