By Emily Drooby
They call her the first lady of the COVID-19 vaccine: Sandra Lindsay. She was the Grand Marshal of the NYC Hometown Heroes ticker tape parade. Sandra was also the first person in America to receive the life-saving COVID vaccine.
Following closely behind her in the parade was Michelle Chester, the woman who gave her the shot.
“We’ve accomplished so much, still more to go,” Michelle said. “But it’s a proud moment and I’m proud of each and every individual standing here today.”
Sandra is a hero to many.
“She showed bravery, she took the shot, being the very first one,” said Sylvia Pinder, who watched her drive by from the sidewalk.
Sylvia and other grateful New Yorkers filled the sidewalk as confetti filled the sky and essential workers filled what’s being called the canyon of heroes.
With her son by her side and her cross close to her heart, Catholic nurse Katie says the pandemic will forever define her career.
“It was really, really hard,” Katie said. “The things that I saw, I think were traumatizing, probably for the rest of my life, but I’m so glad that we were all able to stick together.”
But thousands, including paramedics, EMTs, and firefighters, boycotted the celebration in Manhattan. Instead of a parade, what they want is fair pay and better treatment by the city.
Eric Adams, the new Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City, addressed their position.
While walking along the parade route, he said he respected their decision.
“We have to deal with pay equity,” Eric said. “They decided to boycott and I respect that.”
For some, this was a time to take a stand, but for others this was a moment to let loose after a tense year.
The Diocese of Brooklyn had a strong presence at the parade including Vincent Levien and members of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Emergency Task Force. They were front and center and honored for their frontline work.
“We were honored to help save lives and we are honored to be on NY-Presbyterian’s float,” Vincent said.
Like the emergency task force, members of SOMOS Community Care also get their inspiration to help others from their faith.
“If I didn’t have the faith that I have, I don’t think that I would have been here,” said Dr. Yomaris Pena. “Every night when I had doubts, I would go in and I would pray.”