Southern Brooklynites showed their appreciation for the city’s essential workers over the sweltering hot weekend by participating in back-to-back marches spearheaded by the area’s state senator.
“It was obviously hot, I understand if people don’t want to march in 90-degree heat, but we had great support from the community,” said freshman Sen. Andrew Gounardes. “It was great to bring the neighborhood together.”
Some 70 participants joined the southern Brooklyn legislator for both “United in Thanks” marches — in Bay Ridge on Saturday and Marine Park on Sunday — during which elected officials and constituents came together to extend their gratitude to the thousands of paramedics, subway employees, police officers and delivery workers who kept the city going through the months-long shutdown to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We are out here today to say a heartfelt thanks to all of our essential workers in this community and elsewhere who really helped power us through the worst days of the pandemic,” Gounardes said at the Aug. 1 march in Bay Ridge. “We know we are not out of the woods yet but we want to take a moment to express our deep gratitude to them.”
Councilman Justin Brannan joined Gounardes in leading the Saturday march down the Shore Road Promenade from 80th Street to the American Veterans Memorial Pier, where participants congregated for a vigil. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who is vying for Staten Island House Rep. Max Rose’s seat in November, and State Senate candidate Vito Bruno, who is hoping to unseat Gounardes, also participated in the march.
“It was important for us to march together as a community to say thank you to all the essential workers who helped keep us safe and healthy in our homes during some of the darkest days of the pandemic,” Brannan said. “We will never forget how these frontline workers — my neighbors and yours — stepped up and made extraordinary sacrifices to help keep our city running. During the height of COVID, all of our essential workers became first responders. They are everyday heroes and we are forever in their debt.”
At the pier, essential workers spoke of working through the statewide shutdown and reminded participants how important it is to remain vigilant as the pandemic is not yet over.
“During the height of the pandemic, when all fell silent in this country and in this great city, all everyone heard was the roar of our sirens coming to save them,” said Lieutenant Anthony Almojera, vice president of the FDNY EMS Officers Union. “Now they will hear the outcry of our voices to remind them that we are still here, tired and a bit wary, but when you call, we will still come.”
On Sunday in Marine Park, a different group of electeds — including Assemblywomen Jaime Williams and Helene Weinstein and city comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer — joined Gounardes in walking the perimeter of the neighborhood’s namesake greenspace.
“We can never properly express our gratitude and appreciation to those that have put their lives on the line and continue to do so with courage and fearlessness,” Williams said in a statement. “We must also never forget their sacrifice and constantly offer our support and love for these brave men and women. Standing in solidarity with our front line workers can help illustrate our love and appreciation for their continued devotion to combating this pandemic.”
Gounardes credited the weekend’s peaceful turnouts to the events’ emphasis on inclusivity.
“We [thanked] all of the essential workers — the NYPD, the FDNY, the doctors, nurses, everyone,” he told Brooklyn Paper, “and we did it in a way that was not divisive, that was not you versus me, us versus them, and I think that made all the difference.”