NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting was among the hundreds of thousands of people who lined the route for the New York City Pride March Sunday.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Ivory McNeal, 28, of Orlando, survived the mass shooting inside the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida by hiding behind a potted palm tree. But several of his friends were killed – including Eddie Justice and Javier King.
“Almost instantly, like the music just shuts off and all you hear is just an ongoing noise of just bullets,” McNeal said. “It’s kind of been replaying in my mind over and over. But you know, I’m definitely blessed that I made it out.”
A total of 49 people were killed, and 53 more were injured, when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in the nightclub in the early morning hours on Sunday, June 12.
McNeal said he felt comfort watching the moving memorials for the victims, especially the 49 people dressed and draped in white who wore pictures of the innocent victims who lost their lives.
Sanchez noted that people try to do what they can from afar, but McNeal said it still makes a difference.
“We’re all in this together as humanity,” he said.
At the parade, crowds of onlookers stood a dozen deep along Fifth Avenue, many waving rainbow flags, as CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported. The parade ran from Fifth Avenue and 36th Street to Christopher and Greenwich streets.
Elected officials turned out in force, as did presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
She walked several blocks of the march, joining New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rev. Al Sharpton for a brief appearance at Stonewall Inn, the bar where a 1969 police raid helped catalyze the gay rights movement.
The lead float in the parade was dedicated to the Orlando victims and gun control, and anti-gun-violence groups joined the lineup since the shooting forged new bonds between them and gay-rights activists.
The owner of Pulse in Orlando, Barbara Pomo, also rode atop the Stonewall Inn float.
People also continued to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside the Stonewall Inn, designated by President Barack Obama on Friday as a national monument for the gay rights movement. Those who celebrated the barriers broken Sunday said the world cannot forget what has transpired in the past.
“People are out. We’re celebrating. We are being who we are. We’re not hiding. We’re not going back into the closets,” said New York City Pride Executive Board Chairman David Studinski. “We’re proud of where we’ve come from and we’re going to keep moving forward.”
For more information on the annual parade and other events, click here.
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