New York A giant Statue of Liberty rolled Thursday down Broadway, a focal point of a Thanksgiving Day parade awash with heroes and hero worshippers.
"There's always been a lot of patriotism in this parade, but there's even more this year," said David Rivkin, 46, who has been coming to the parade every year since 1959.
Thursday's 75th annual Macy's parade kicked off in relatively warm weather 41 degrees with little wind, not freezing like last year. Security was tight, as it has been throughout the city since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"This year, we have again been working with NYPD as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies to put in place the appropriate security plan to ensure the safest and most secure parade," said Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras. He declined to discuss specifics.
But Shelley Veigh, a Macy's employee in Short Hills, N.J., who was dressed as a bowling pin, said some of the people in costume were actually law enforcement officers.
Frank Ray, an off-duty police officer who attended the parade with his wife and two children, said, "New York City always does the best for security every year. With all the things going on, this parade is really great for the city. It shows the world our resolve and our feeling for life."
The lead float was called "Tribute to America" and featured the giant Liberty surrounded by midshipmen from the Merchant Marine Academy of New York waving 50 state flags and 50 American flags. Broadway star Betty Buckley sang "America the Beautiful."
"It was awesome!" said Meredith Kenny, 15, of Manhassett.
"It's a lot more patriotic this year and it's good to see all the flags," she said. "My dad's a cop."
The crowd chanted "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani boarded a float with Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, Office of Emergency Management director Richard Sheirer and Yankees Manager Joe Torre.
The float featured a 13-foot Big Apple, replicas of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings and a police officer singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
There also was a smaller, human version of Liberty parade marcher Jennifer Stewart.
"This is quintessential New York," said Stewart, dressed in a coppery-green costume as she dusted her face with green powder.
Stewart, who usually works as a sort of "rent-a-Liberty," also wore the costume in recent weeks while raising money for her local firehouse and the Red Cross.
Another float was escorted by the NYPD marching band performing "New York, New York." Firefighters, police and other emergency workers on the float held two 54-foot flag-theme banners.
Of course, it wasn't all flag-waving and uniforms.
Curious George was among the new giant helium balloons. "I love Curious George. The face is great," said Rivkin.
Calloway Carlotto, 5, watched the parade with his mother and 3-year-old brother, Nathaniel. "My favorite was Pikachu," he said.
There was also a World Wrestling Federation float, Hallmark's Dinotopia, Nickelodeon's Bob the Builder and Percy the Poor Little Penguin.