MANHATTAN (WABC) -- The NYPD said security was their number one priority this weekend as preparations were in full swing for Pride weekend festivities.
Their message was simple for Pride events: to have fun, but be alert.
For volunteer Donnie Willis, he's excited to see Pride festivities come back in full force in person for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak.
"It's amazing, it's absolutely amazing after being shut in for all that long time," Willis said.
Friday morning, leaders broke ground on a new visitor center at the Stonewall Inn.
The center will recognize the legacy of the LGBTQ rights movement and is the first center in the national park system dedicated to the gay rights movement.
At Battery Park, the New York City Pride rally event returned in person since the start of the pandemic.
The rally advocates for change, and inclusion, and remembers those impacted by the stonewall riots of 1969.
"I think the message of pride and the message of this weekend is that we should all feel like our full selves. and this is a welcoming environment to do so," the Communication Director NYC, Pride Kazz Alexander, said.
With thousands of people heading to Manhattan this weekend, police are also ready to celebrate with Pride.
"We're going to be prepared. Our intelligence division, our intelligence bureau have been preparing for weeks, examining things that are going on abroad, foreign threats, as well as domestic threats. it's all about making sure our city and our events are safe. and we are well prepared," NYPD chief Jeffrey Maddrey said.
Police say they also need help from the public while out on the streets.
"Even though the NYPD is well prepared, the community is our partners in this. so they have to also make sure that they're watching each other's back. watching their police departments back, as we watch their back," Maddrey said.
With a packed-out weekend, volunteers like Willis simply have one message for people celebrating with him.
"Respect each other, have a concern for the people that's around you and just have a great time everything will be there that you need," Willis said.
Pride events will be going on all weekend. Police are stressing if you see something suspicious to contact them.
The NYC Pride March broadcast special, co-hosted by Angelica Ross along with WABC's Ken Rosato, Lauren Glassberg and Sam Champion, will return for its sixth consecutive year on ABC 7 from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET on Sunday, June 26 as well on abc7NY.com, ABC News Live, and ABC7 New York's Connected TV Apps on streaming platforms Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.