NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Thousands of spectators lined Fifth Avenue to watch the 93rd annual Veterans Day Parade.

The parade began at 26th Street and marched for 30 blocks up Fifth Avenue.

Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Charles Schumer and other leaders marched in the parade.

WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reports from Fifth Avenue

Jason Hamsman marched with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“It’s all about spreading awareness and getting vets together with other vets,” Hamsman told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola. “It’s an amazing experience being welcomed home by New York City, one of the greatest cities in the world down one of the most favorite streets in the world. It’s a little overwhelming at times but incredibly exciting, especially being surrounded by hundreds of our fellow veterans.”

This year’s parade marked the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and is dedicated to Vietnam Veterans, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of that war.

The U.S. Coast Guard was the featured military branch this year, according to parade organizers.

Former Mayor Ed Koch is the grand marshal of the parade. Also marching were the Navajo Code Talkers, who transmitted coded messages during World War II.

Other veterans groups were also part of the parade. Some participants collected coats for the Sandy relief effort.

Koch, a World War II veteran, was given the honor for his service and for his service to Vietnam veterans as mayor, according to parade organizers.

This year’s parade theme was ‘United We Stand.’

Last year, more than 20,000 participants marched alongside 3,000 active-duty servicemen and women.

The parade began after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Light Monument at 24th Street.

Some vets are marking the day by assisting the superstorm Sandy relief effort.

On Saturday, the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center staged a special gesture of honor: veterans tying yellow ribbons to a tree that survived the terror attack.

More than 100 ribbons were distributed at the Saturday morning ceremony. A wreath was laid near the tree, which thrives more than a decade after it emerged from the smoking rubble.

Monday is a federal holiday to mark Veterans Day, which means federal offices will be closed and mail delivery will be suspended for the day.

This is the first Veterans Day honoring the men and women who served in uniform since the last U.S. troops left Iraq last December.

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