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Huge Crowds, Increased Security And Tributes To Orlando Victims At NYC Pride Parade

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City's gay Pride March drew a throng Sunday, in a celebration of barriers breached and a remembrance of the lives lost in a shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

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.

Pride 2016: Hillary Clinton
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walks during the New York City Pride March, June 26, 2016 in New York City. This year was the 46th Pride march in New York City (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

On Sunday, with her Twitter handle appearing in rainbow colors, Clinton wrote: ``One year ago, love triumphed in our highest court. Yet LGBT Americans still face too many barriers. Let's keep marching until they don't. -H''

Meanwhile, at the start of the parade, an announcer in a pickup truck introduced state officials and guests also shouted out, "Love is love! New York is Orlando!'' in memory of the 49 people killed two weeks ago in Orlando.

PHOTOS: NYC Pride Parade 2016 | MORE: Pride Week Guide | Parade Street Closures | Eats | Bars | LGBTQ Resources

"This is my first time at Pride. I thought it would be a good show of support to come out, especially after what happened in Orlando," a woman named Hillary, who was marching with the LGBT Community Center, told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern.

As CBS2's Steve Langford reported, pride was just one of many sentiments at the parade, which may have been the most emotion-charged in the nearly half-century history of the march.

"It's crazy. It's life-changing. It's moving," one attendee said.

The parade came one year to the day marriage equality was declared the law of the land, and exactly two weeks since the Pulse nightclub massacre. Thus, the 2016 edition of the iconic New York manifestation meant many things.

"How many more have to die?" one group chanted.

Of course, the zany joy of the pride parade is a constant. But there were deep issues facing the marchers, the crowds, and all Americans.

As WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported, some marchers wore orange shirts reading, "One Pulse." Meanwhile, 49 men and women wore white from the veils over their faces down to their feet – each holding a photo of one of the victims.

Pride 2016: Orlando Victims Remembered
A commemoration for the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre at the 2016 New York City Pride March. (Credit: Adam Harrington/CBS New York)

Before the parade began, photos of the Orlando victims were displayed on the pavement at the head of the parade, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

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.

"Our message is that we want to have them rethink current gun policies. We want them to address issues of background checks, high-capacity magazines," said John Grauwiler with the newly-formed group Gays Against Guns.

Organizers honored the shooting victims with the moment of silence but also wanted the pride and resilience to come through.

"It's critical that we provide a space where the LGBT community can be out and proud and demonstrate that hatred cannot silence us," James Fallarino, a spokesman for organizers of the parade, told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell.

Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed the same sentiment.

"This parade is New York City saying defiantly, we will stand up to hatred. We will stand up to those who would try to undermine our values," de Blasio said.

And despite the recent horrors, city Councilman Corey Johnson (D-3rd) emphasized how much has changed in recent years.

"Ten years ago, 70 percent of the American public did not support marriage equality. Ten years later, 70 percent of the American public support marriage equality," Johnson said.

The gay teenage daughter of a prominent national anti-gun group called Moms Demand Action said the two causes are now joined.

"I think when these two movements come together, it's unstoppable," said Emma Troughton.

The parade was a demonstration that resonated far and wide, as Syrian refugee Subhi Nahas, one of the parade's grand marshals, attested.

"It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to a lot of people around the globe," Nahas said.

This year, the Stonewall Inn is also especially important after President Barack Obama on Friday designated the site as the first national monument to gay rights. A 1969 police raid on the bar helped catalyze the gay rights movement.

And just before the start of the parade, Cuomo announced that the Stonewall Inn would be designated as a state historic site and that New York would erect a monument in honor of all victims of hate and intolerance, including those killed in Orlando.

The owner of Pulse in Orlando, Barbara Pomo, rode atop the Stonewall Inn float.

Pride events throughout the weekend have been safeguarded by the NYPD, CBS2's Magdalena Doris reported.

Police deployed roving counterterrorism units and used bomb-sniffing dogs, rooftop observation posts, police helicopters and thousands of officers to provide extra layers of security at Sunday's parade.

Thousands of uniformed officers lined the route, supplemented by plainclothes officers in the crowd.

Mayor de Blasio also assured New Yorkers that the parade was safe.

"I think it's very important that people come out to the parade to show their pride in what we've done in this city and their great pride in connection to the LGBT community," de Blasio said.

The parade was followed with a nighttime dance at Pier 26 on the Hudson River. The people in attendance said the pride event grows bigger every year, and the gay community is more united than ever.

"What's most interesting is that now, young people are knowing history," said Steven Menendez of Harlem. "And so in the end, it's getting bigger every year."

"It's the first time I participated in the parade," added spectator Lauren Houghton. "And honestly, with Orlando in the memory, it's just awesome."

Police said there were no threats made against any of the pride events Sunday.

For more information on the annual parade and other events, click here.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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