NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The excitement surrounding Thursday’s debate built outside the CBS Broadcast Center, where supporters gathered as the candidates entered our studios.

As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reports, it was politics inside, but a party outside.

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In the hours leading up to the debate, there was a celebration of local democracy that was one of the first major gatherings in more than a year for a lot of the supporters.

There were performers, party buses and pure passion for local politics.

The excitement ahead of the debate was seen in the dancing, the ringing of cow bells and larger than life cut outs.

“It’s really fun. It’s exciting that there’s so much energy around this campaign,” one Scott Stringer supporter said.

“This is what democracy’s about. I love it. I absolutely love it,” said Jason Kim, a Maya Wiley supporter.

The energy wouldn’t let up on West 57th Street, with each candidate getting a rock star’s welcome from his or her own crowd of supporters.

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“It’s an incredible opportunity for New Yorkers to see what’s happening in their city, see the different visions unfolding,” said Jay Lancaster, a Kathryn Garcia supporter.

“This is an exciting time. This is a very big election coming up,” undecided voter Nicholas Weeks said.

No matter who they were supporting, the sentiment was clear: this is a big moment for the Big Apple.

The democratic display proved as we move toward the end of the pandemic, New York is back, and they love it.

“This is a very good ra ra and corral moment. Rallying is what New York City needs right now. We want to be excited about something,” said Sahiba Kaur, an Andrew Yang supporter.

“We need this. We need everyone to get back. We need people that are positive and full of energy ready to support the city. We impact the world. This is not just like any other city. We are the ones that make the difference,” said Alvaro Batres, an Eric Adams supporter.

At one point, the NYPD’s counterterrorism task force had officers call for back-up because the crowd was so large, but the atmosphere remained passionate but peaceful.

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CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team