TriBeCa, Manhattan (WABC) -- A sea of orange took over the Hudson River Friday night with attendees of this year's Pride Rally all wearing orange bandanas as a symbolic gesture of their connection to Orlando and the fight to end gun violence.
It's the annual kick off for a weekend full of fun, acceptance, and love, but this year's NYC Pride Rally falls in the wake of overwhelming heartache following the devastating massacre in Orlando.
Just twelve days after the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub, thousands gathered at Pier 26 including Pulse owner Barbara Poma, to remember those lives lost, and to draw strength from one another as the healing process continues.
"While the world is watching, it is our time to show how love will conquer hate, that we are one pulse, we are one nation," Poma said.
In between chants, songs, and dancing, many say they became emotional for a variety of reasons.
"Even though we weren't there, it felt like you were there at the moment. We were all crying.We all felt like we were safe to go out, and then you come here, and it's like we can," said Anastasia Johnson.
"I think it's terrible, and I think we really need to change the laws on gun violence, and we're out here supporting Orlando," added Nicole Deleonardo.
Freedoms long fought for, and more recently recognized and memorialized with President Barack Obama naming the Stonewall Inn as the county's first LGBT national monument Friday.
"I think it just sends an incredible message - that we are finally being seen not as a curiosity or a peculiarity among everybody, but simply as another variety of human beings," said Fabio Ferrari.
RELATED: Route, map for NYC's 2016 LGBT Pride March