NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A sea of rainbows took over the Big Apple for the biggest pride parade in the world Sunday.
Security was on high alert as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo marched in the 48th annual NYC Pride March, joined by First Lady Chirlane McCray and police Commissioner James O’Neill.
The march kicked off at noon, as thousands danced and sang and celebrated LGBTQ pride.
PHOTOS: 48th NYC Pride March
“Everybody gets together,” parade participant Wanda Brigantti told CBS2’s Reena Roy. “We’re brothers and sisters, we’re all family.”
Spectators lined up deep behind the barriers on each side of the parade route, attending for their own reasons – personal and political.
“I think we’d like to see change; we’d like to see equality for everybody,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern.
“It’s like my first year coming out publicly, so it’s important to me to be here,” a woman added.
The grand marshals this year included Brook Guinan – the first openly transgender woman FDNY firefighter and an advocate; Krishna Stone – the director of community relations at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis advocacy group; Geng Lee – a leader for LGBT rights in the People’s Republic of China; and as an organization, the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Visibility has always been one of the most influential tools that we have to combat the ignorance and hatred and violence that our community faces,” Guinan said.
Many said that visibility is especially important now given the changing political climate in Washington.
“The Pride March is a magnificent way of celebrating the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people, and it also allows us to remind everyone that our work is not done in terms of working towards full equality for LGBT people,” Stone told WCBS 880.
But the march wasn’t without conflict. One person released pepper spray into the crowd on Christopher Street before she was quickly apprehended. Meanwhile, several others were arrested after sitting down along the route, blocking marchers and chanting anti-police remarks.
The crowd largely cheered when the parade was able to go on.
Many marched Sunday for political reasons.
“This year is not a parade, this year is a march,” Harris Doran from the organization “Rise and Resist” told CBS2. “We are marching against the oppression, the agenda that is coming from the White House.”
Some voiced their concerns about the Trump administration — specifically regarding gay rights, health care, and gun control.
“We are here to just continue our protest that was started last June after the Pulse massacre,” Jay Walker from Gays Against Guns said.
One of four grand marshals leading the parade was Brooke Guinan — the first openly transgender FDNY firefighter.
“Go out there and achieve your dreams and search for those things that make you happy and that you have the same rights as everyone else does too,” she said.
Ahead of the march, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at a Pride Breakfast. He honored Judge Paul Feinman – who last week became the first openly gay judge confirmed for the New York State Court of Appeals.
Cuomo also recalled how New York became the first large state to approve same-sex marriage in 2011. He noted not long after the New York bill passed, Vice President Joe Biden and then President Barack Obama endorsed gay marriage.
“When New York speaks, it’s still one of the great microphones in the country,” Cuomo said.
Streets were closed for several hours on and near the parade route, which began at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The parade wrapped up at Christopher and Greenwich streets.