NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYC Pride March returned in 2021 as a mostly virtual event Sunday.

There were some in-person, pop-up events featuring the parade’s famous floats, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.

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A rainbow of colors took over city streets as the LGBTQ community celebrated Pride.

It was a smaller event, but still mighty.

“It’s about heart and it’s about spirit and we have it, especially in New York,” Felipe Hernandez of Gotham Cheer told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.

“We are so excited to bring the city back with this occasion,” another person said.

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Gotham Cheer, a nonprofit whose members are LBGTQIA+, helped get the party started.

The march route was kept secret until Sunday morning so that thousands of people wouldn’t show up. However, hundreds still did.

“Good to be mindful of all the communities who are still suffering, be mindful of COVID because it’s still a risk,” one person said.

“To be back and marching maskless is a whole new story,” Mary McMahon added.

There were five parade marshals, including Ceyenne Doroshow, a community activist who founded a group called G.L.I.T.S., which provides support to LGBTQ sex workers

“Discrimination starts at home and spirals out. G.L.I.T.S. does everything when somebody calls and says, ‘I need help. I need help,'” Doroshow said.

Organizers said since the march wasn’t full scale this year, they planned pop-up parties along the route to support local restaurants and businesses.

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“I think a lot of restaurants are struggling right now, but we bounced back. We’re here now. We fought through the pandemic,” one person said.

“Luckily, the parade is marching right by us, so we won’t have a problem getting customers. But the pop-ups is great idea,” said Rob Doile, general manager of Mexicue.

PrideFest, a street fair that covers Ninth to 13th Streets on Fourth Avenue, also made a comeback.

The theme for 2021 was “The Fight Continues,” reflecting on the adversity the community faces on many fronts.

“I know the fifth anniversary of the Pulse massacre in Orlando. So we’re here mourning that, but celebrating what we’re getting to. Also there’s hundreds of anti-trans bills in over 30 states, so we’re still fighting for full equality,” Gilbert Gaona said.

Leading up to the annual march, numerous gatherings honored the ongoing movement toward equality, including the Front Runners New York LGBTQ 6K through Central Park on Saturday.

“Hopefully by having races like this, people will get to know us as people, as runners, and see that there’s absolutely no difference,” Marty Perl said.

The first Pride March was held in 1970, a year after the Stonewall riots gave birth to the gay rights movement.

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This year, for the first time, NYC Pride excluded LGBTQ police officers from the march and said it didn’t want the NYPD to provide security. Mayor Bill de Blasio met with GOAL — the Gay Officers Action League — and said he supports the organization.

“If we’re going to move forward, we have to bring everyone together. That is what we aspire to, a city, a government, a police force that represents the community. That can only happen if LGBT officers join the NYPD,” de Blasio said.

The NYPD did help secure the parade and no incidents with marchers were reported. The celebrations were expected to continue all night.

This year also marked the 10th anniversary of New York legalizing same-sex marriage.

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CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.

Natalie Duddridge