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Ticker-tape parade for medical workers, first responders after outbreak ends

Members of the Department of Sanitation use brooms

Members of the Department of Sanitation use brooms and leaf blowers to clean up confetti after a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes on July 10, 2019, to celebrate the U.S. women's soccer team' World Cup victory. Credit: Charles Eckert

A ticker-tape parade up New York City’s Canyon of Heroes will fete the medical workers and first responders battling the coronavirus pandemic — but not until after the outbreak is defeated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

“When that day comes that we can restart the vibrant, beautiful life of this city again, the first thing we will do is, we will have a ticker-tape parade,” he told reporters by video at his daily news conference.

His spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said later the administration did not know when the parade would be possible, nor were plans being made.

“Frankly that sounds like a good idea to me when it’s all over," President Donald Trump said Tuesday at the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. "That sounds like a great idea. They deserve it, they’re warriors and they’ve done an incredible job.”

Some epidemiological models have forecast the need for measures like social distancing — which would rule out any public gathering such as a parade — for months or longer, until the virus could be contained, cured, or vaccinated against.

De Blasio’s announcement comes after his cancellations over the past four days of public events for May and June to prevent further infections.

The Canyon of Heroes — the name of the parade route from the Battery to City Hall — has hosted more than 200 parades since the first, on Oct. 28, 1886, to dedicate the Statue of Liberty, according to the Alliance for Downtown New York. Honorees have included kings, soldiers, presidents, sea captains, a pope, a concert pianist and sports champions.

On July 26, 1954, Geneviève De Galard-Terraube, a nurse who stayed with wounded French soldiers in Vietnam — she was called the angel of Dien Bien Phu — was honored there. 

At a parade uptown in May 1918 for Red Cross nurses who were to depart soon to the World War I front, President Woodrow Wilson made a surprise appearance on Fifth Avenue.

New York City has adopted a tradition from abroad: public clapping at 7 p.m. daily for health care workers battling the virus.

De Blasio last week cautioned against premature celebrations, recalling a citywide gathering in San Francisco during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, after the city thought that pandemic had been beaten. Facemasks were flung onto the street as thousands assembled to celebrate. Within a few months, the number of infections nearly doubled.

With Laura Figueroa-Hernandez