With just over two weeks until a “Canyon of Heroes” salute to essential workers who kept the city going through the pandemic, some honorees said they’re still unclear on their place in the parade.
While City Hall has said retail, bodega and transportation workers will be among the groups represented on floats in the July 7 “Hometown Heroes” parade from Battery Park to City Hall, leaders of organizations that represent food-delivery workers and transit workers on Monday said organizers had yet to contact them.
“Rain or shine, rain, sleet or snow, during heatwaves, we deliver to people who can’t or won’t leave their homes or offices, to sometimes great personal sacrifice,” said Sergio Ajche, a delivery worker and leader of Los Deliveristas Unidos, a group of food delivery workers formed during the pandemic. “And I personally would like to have that work honored.”
A City Hall spokesperson said organizers are in the process of reaching out to “heroes of the pandemic” while working to ensure the parade is inclusive of “all the heroic efforts New Yorkers made in the past year.”
“This parade is for all of them,” said spokesperson Mitch Schwartz. “We can never thank these essential workers enough, but we can celebrate their bravery with a fun, safe, joyful event to kick off the Summer of NYC.”
‘What’s the Deal?’
Tensions surfaced Monday morning as Brooklyn Councilmember Justin Brannan tweeted “What’s the deal?” at Mayor Bill de Blasio after charging that City Hall had “neglected to invite” Los Deliveristas Unidos and the Transport Workers Union.
“De Blasio’s parade may turn into a bigger flop than his eight years in office,” fumed John Samuelsen, international president of the TWU and a frequent critic of the mayor’s.
Schwartz said the groups will be receiving invitations to the parade.
Brannan hoped City Hall’s good intentions don’t backfire.
“This is something that’s supposed to be a good thing,” the Council member told THE CITY. “If you end up pissing people off, you’re going to ruin the purpose of the whole thing.”
Funeral workers last week grumbled about not being initially included on a City Hall list highlighting groups of “essential workers who served this city heroically throughout the pandemic.” A mayoral spokesperson told Gothamist they would be in the parade.
The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a nonprofit organization that works with city agencies, is seeking sponsorships for the so-called ticker-tape parade down Broadway.
According to a copy of a fundraising appeal sent out by the non-profit, 15% of contributions will go toward the COVID-19 Hometown Heroes Recovery Fund to “support those on the front lines of the pandemic” along with the city’s hardest-hit communities.
The appeal spells out the various levels of sponsorship.
- For $250,000 a “Title Sponsor” can put signage on five floats with 10 attendees, along with 10 tickets to the City Hall ceremony.
- For $100,000, a “Premiere Sponsor” can put signage on two floats with four attendees, along with four tickets to the City Hall ceremony.
- For $50,000, a “Float Sponsor” is entitled to put signs on one float with two attendees and a pair of tickets to the City Hall ceremony.
The city typically tries to fund ticker-tape parades with large sponsorships, But corporate donations to cover a 2015 parade for the U.S. women’s national soccer team fell short of the celebration’s projected $2 million tab.
City Hall said fundraising efforts are “going well” for the “Hometown Heroes” event, with “no shortage of interest” from potential sponsors.
An MTA spokesperson said the agency is working with City Hall to develop plans for the parade.
“It’s a further insult,” Samuelsen said. “They reached out to the bosses and not the workers.”
Brannan said the pandemic redefined who makes up the ranks of front-line workers, adding that it’s also created some resentment, as well, over how the parade is being organized.
“It’s like a fourth-grade birthday party,” he said. “People want to know, ‘So, did you get an invitation?”