NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — One of the world’s oldest and largest gay pride parades turned into a carnival-like celebration of same-sex marriage Sunday as hundreds of thousands of revelers rejoiced at New York’s new law giving gay couples the same marital rights as everyone else.

Throngs of cheering supporters greeted Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he led off the parade two days after signing the historic bill that made New York the sixth state to extend full marriage rights to gay couples.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports: Cheers For Cuomo As He Marches Down The Parade Route

“I believe New York has sent a message to this nation loud and clear,” Cuomo said before the march down Fifth Avenue. “It is time for marriage equality all across this country.”

Revelers held signs that said “Thank you Gov. Cuomo” and “Promise kept.”

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports: For Many, Parade An Expression Of Freedom and Equality

State Sen. Tom Duane, a Manhattan Democrat who is gay, said he also planned to join in the festivities.

“I always love the parade,” Duane said in an interview Saturday. “It’s like Christmas and New Year’s all wrapped into one, but I think it’ll be particularly joyous, so I’m really looking forward to that.”

For many participants of the parade, the event this year is more of an American rights celebration then a gay one.

Samantha and her wife are marching in the parade. Feeling proud about New York legalizing same-sex marriage and hoping one day the right will be nationwide.

“It’s just about freedom and your right to be who you are,” she said.

There may even be a few surprise engagements during the parade, which stepped off at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue. It passes by the Stonewall Inn, the site where the gay rights movement began, before ending at Greenwich and Christopher streets.

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports: Massive Security In Place For Parade

This year’s grand marshals include author and sex columnist Dan Savage and Terry Miller, who married in Canada; the Rev. Pat Bumgardner, the senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of New York and a proponent of gay rights; and the Imperial Court of New York, which raises money for gay health and social services.

The theme of this year’s march is proud and powerful.

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