AFSCME members in the Miami area honored in Hometown Heroes Parade

MIAMI – Public service workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic often get words of thanks from their employers and little else. Not so in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous jurisdiction.

County officials hosted a Hometown Heroes Parade on Oct. 30 to celebrate the sacrifices made by first responders and health care workers, including members of Local 1363 (AFSCME Florida), who work at serve their community at Jackson Health System.

“The pandemic really stretched all of us personally and professionally, but through it all we knew this is when what we do matters the most. And the support from the community was there,” said William Orange, a nutrition worker at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and a leader at Local 1363 who rode in the Jackson Health/AFSCME Local 1363 parade float. “To have a parade like this really means a lot because it means that people remember what we did even now when, hopefully, the worst is behind us.”

In a statement before the parade, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava paid tribute to the front-line workers for putting their community’s needs first.

“Through the past 2½ years, our community recovered from the worst pandemic in over a century,” she said. “Through the most challenging times, we were able to witness inspiring moments of resiliency, innovation, kindness, and community. The Hometown Heroes Parade will honor those who put Miami-Dade first, delivered life-saving services and supplies, and kept us safe when we were most vulnerable.”

The parade included health care professionals, police and fire personnel, elected officials, marching bands and more. It followed the same path used to celebrate sporting championships, and for opening celebrations for big events. Parade participants were honored by U.S. Coast Guard vessels and a host of other watercraft, and the event included a costume contest, food trucks, live music and other community activities.

“If you told me back during the worst of the pandemic that I would have been up on a float going down this famous parade route with people cheering and celebrating the work we did, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Orange. “This is a day we are all going to remember for a long time to come. It really makes you appreciate what it means when your community and leaders understand the value of what you do.”