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Breakfast in Bryant Park honors emergency responders

Jessica Russell Bany, her son, William, 10, and

Jessica Russell Bany, her son, William, 10, and daughter, Mikaela, 8, from Massapequa appear in Manhattan after the National Law Enforcement and Firefighter's Children Foundation annual Thanksgiving Breakfast at Bryant Park Grill on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

Before the start of Thursday's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, more than 1,300 families, including some from Long Island, gathered in Bryant Park in Manhattan for an annual breakfast honoring first responders killed or disabled in the line of duty.

"We start our day here," Jennifer McNamara said at the 15th annual National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children's Foundation breakfast at the Bryant Park Grill. "You're greeted by all these wonderful people."

Her husband, FDNY firefighter John McNamara, died in 2009 at age 44 of 9/11-related cancer, she said. He worked more than 500 hours at Ground Zero.

McNamara, of Blue Point, and her son, Jack, 9, said they were going to the parade after breakfast.

"It's a nice new tradition for me and Jack," she said, adding that she was thankful for "the greater FDNY family, the greater law enforcement family."

Jessica Russell-Bany, 40, of Massapequa, came with her children to honor her father, NYPD Officer Michael Russell, who died in the line of duty in 1979.

She said she was touched to see NYPD officers on guard.

"You kind of get a lump in your throat seeing that these men and women are here working so that we can have a safe parade," Russell-Bany said.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who attended the breakfast, said New Yorkers should feel safe.

"I know this is a difficult time because of what's going on all over the world," he said before the event. "The people of New York should have this tremendously strong feeling that they are being supported by the best police, the best fire, the best emergency services that exist anywhere."

NYPD Chief James O'Neill, who attended the breakfast, said the department had been preparing for months.

"In light of everything that happened in Paris and the changing world, I'm sure everybody is concerned," O'Neill said before the breakfast. "But . . . the NYPD is prepared for this event."

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