NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two weeks after 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Mayor Bill de Blasio is assuring New Yorkers that Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade will be safe.
“We are sobered by what happened in Orlando, but resolute in protecting people and protecting their rights,” de Blasio said in a live interview with 1010 WINS on Saturday. “I want everyone to know the parade will be very safe.”
The city is anticipating the largest turnout ever this year and the mayor said the NYPD will be out in force for the event.
“I think it’s very important that people come out to the parade to show their pride in what we’ve done in this city and their great pride in connection to the LGBT community,” de Blasio said. “Rest assured we think this is going to be an extraordinary weekend for New York City and people should know they’re being protected.”
De Blasio said the city just added more than 500 officers to its Critical Response Command. The officers are trained and armed specific to inhibit terror and to prevent it, the mayor said.
“We’re not only the safest big city in america, we have the biggest anti-terror capacity and armed police force of any city,” de Blasio said.
Approximately 32,000 people are expected to march in the parade, which kicks off at noon Sunday. It starts on Fifth Avenue at 36th Street and end two miles later at Christopher and Bleecker streets.
Marchers will observe a moment of silence in memory of the Orlando shooting victims.
Danny Ochoa is with the Latino Commission on AIDS, which has a float in the parade featuring 49 flower petals — one for each of the Orlando victims.
“This is the opportunity to show our faces, this is our opportunity to say, ‘Hey we are here, we are here and we don’t want to go,'” he said.
Meanwhile, a sea of rainbow was taking over the city on Saturday, as New Yorkers got ready to welcome the annual Gay Pride Parade, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
There were numerous pride gatherings leading up to the big parade, including a dance party on Pier 26 in Tribeca, where many applauded Friday’s declaration of the Stonewall Inn as a national monument and also remembered the victims of the Orlando masacre.
Pride weekend kicked off on Friday with a major party on Pier 26 spreading happiness in the face of hate.
There was a moment of silence as the names of the Orlando massacre victims were read aloud by the owner of the nightclub where 49 people were killed.
Pulse nightclub employee Neema Bahrami asked attendees to spread compassion and kindness throughout a hurting community.
“Turn to the person next to you, give them a hug and say ‘my brother, my sister, I love you,” Bahrami said.
The rally to put pride on display also brought a message to lawmakers with advocates calling for stiffer gun policy.
“It’s important for them to understand that there is currently a life threatening divergence of homophobia and flawed gun policy,” John Grauwiler, Gays Against Guns said.
Taking a stand is nothing new for the LGBTQ community in New York City.
In 1969 the Stonewall Inn became known as the birthplace of the gay rights movement when bar patrons fought back during a police raid.
On Friday, President Barack Obama designated Stonewall and Christopher Park a national monument.
“This happened way before I was even born, and it is amazing to see this is still here and now it is protected,” Michael Conroy said.
As part of the designation and celebration of New York City’s pride festival, the White House coordinated with the National Park Foundation to release a video that was to be played on billboards in Times Square on Saturday.
Victims of the Florida shooting were also remembered in London, where thousands marched in its parade held a day before the one in New York City. The event unfolded with tightened security and there were no major incidents.