GREENWICH VILLAGE — Rainbow balloons filled the air and glammed out marchers with colorful costumes and makeup owned the streets at the 44th annual Pride Parade in Manhattan on Sunday.
Helming the parade was this year's main attraction: the 84-year-old grand marshal, Edie Windsor, who challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court and won on Wednesday. She greeted with a response big enough for Madonna at Sunday's parade, we began on Fifth Avenue in Midtown.
Many marchers even wore cut-out masks of Windsor's face as they moved along the avenue.
"There's so much positive energy here," said Christopher Morales, 19, from Long Island. "This one is going to be crazy, because when they passed the [gay marriage] law last year it was crazy, so this year it should be even crazier."
The freshly won ruling was a victory for many, whose marriages will be as equally revered by the federal government as they are by their own state, and the turnout for Sunday's parade was expected to rise matching the excitement felt across the nation.
"We are celebrating who we are," said Chrys Rivera, 20, from Bushwick. "It's definitely special," she added, to be present following the ruling.
Signs carried in the parade shared her sentiment. An immigration reform group carried one sign that read, "Goodbye DOMA, hello green cards." Other marchers carried signs saying "Thank you, Supreme Court," and "SCOTUS respects my coitus."
Several floats passed out condoms, facial wipes, and frisbees, or sprayed the crowd with cool water. As children in Midtown perched atop parents' shoulders to watch, some paradegoers instead climbed scaffolding to get a better look.
The crowed roared as Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov, the first gay couple to be married in New York City, rode by on a cart pulled by a cyclist.
As the NYPD marching band stopped and performed in front of the Stonewall Inn, where the birthplace of the gay rights movement began following a police raid, people clapped along to the beat and cheered the performing officers.
Councilman Brad Lander retweeted a photo of the band, originally taken by Capital New York reporter Azi Paybarah, commenting, "Great picture. Good policing, equality & dignity in harmony.
"The parade, which kicked off at noon from Fifth Avenue and 36th Street in Manhattan and wended down Fifth Avenue before turning west on W.8th and Christopher streets towards the Hudson River, normally draws at least 1.5 million spectators.
A panel of judges watched the parade of 300 floats and thousands of marchers, and named winners for Best Use of a Theme, Most Original, Best Decorated Vehicle, Best Musical Contingent and more.
The annual LGBT street fair component of NYC Pride meanwhile combined food and product vendors, activities and entertainers. The free event started at 11 a.m. and ran along Hudson Street from Abingdon Square to West 14th Street.