NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City will honor its front-line workers in a ticker-tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes on Wednesday.
A total of 2,500 people will take part in the Hometown Heroes Parade, including 13 marching bands.READ MORE: Mayor De Blasio Announces Vaccine Mandate For All New York City Municipal Workers, Including First Responders
However, the union representing FDNY EMTs says they will boycott the event. Members of Local 2507 say the funds being used to put the parade on would be better spent on raising wages of EMS workers.
The union has been in contract negotiations with the city since before the pandemic, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
“They’re not giving us anything at the table,” said Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507.
The EMT starting salary in the city is around $35,000. It’s $45,000 for firefighters and $42,500 for NYPD officers.
“We’re asking for equal pay to other first responders,” Barzilay said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio told CBS2, in part, “Negotiations with the union are ongoing and we’re looking forward to a fair outcome.”
The high heat expected Wednesday has caused parade organizers to cancel a planned City Hall ceremony at the end of the parade.
CBS2’s Christina Fan got a sneak peek Tuesday at the 14 floats that will also make the trip down the canyon. The owners said they’ve worked on a least a dozen other ticker-tape parades before, from the World Cup to the Yankees, but this one carries a different meaning.
“Obviously, the sports heroes and things of that nature are one thing. But these are real life heroes who save lives, put their lives on the line,” said Robert DeVito of Bond Parade Floats in Clifton, N.J. “To honor them and be a part of that is special.”READ MORE: 1 Dead, Another Injured After Police Pursuit Ends In Crash In Holtsville
Each of the floats features a banner, celebrating a specific group of essential workers who helped New York survive the darkest days of the pandemic.
Some Con Edison employees said they are proud to be among those representing utility workers.
“You need electricity to keep the ventilators running in the hospital, to keep the lights on in homes and businesses. And our workers were behind this effort and I’m so proud to be a part of them,” Maureen Kreider said.
Also making an appearance in the Hometown Heroes Parade will be a historic 118-year-old subway car with woven seats and leather straps. It’s a befitting ride for transit workers who helped keep the city moving.
“They showed up for a very hard chapter, as they did during 9/11, as they did during Superstorm Sandy. MTA people showed up every day,” said Concetta Bencivenga, director of the NY Transit Museum.
The grand marshal for the parade will be Queens nurse Sandra Lindsay, the first person in the country to receive the COVID vaccine. She spoke to CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis about what the honor means to her.
“I am so grateful. It feels like we’re getting a big hug all over again from the entire city. Those clap outs at 7 p.m. really helped us every day. We felt the love,” Lindsay said.
The mayor said people are welcome to come down to the parade route and catch the action in person.
“I think it’s going to be a healthy attendance, but I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be the traditional huge attendance,” de Blasio said. “I think you’re going to see a lot of folks come out to support their fellow New Yorkers. The import thing was, we said this last year, as soon as we could reopen the city, the first thing we had to do was honor the folks who got us here. I think it’s going to be a beautiful celebration.”
Watch live team coverage of the parade starting at 11 a.m. on CBS2 and CBSN New York.MORE NEWS: Employee Stabbed To Death At East Harlem Deli
CBS2’s Ali Bauman, Jessica Layton and Christina Fan contributed to this report.