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500 New York couples attend a mass celebration after pandemic-hit weddings – Health and Lifestyle News – Report by AFR

About 500 couples celebrated their unions under blue skies on Sunday at an event in New York aimed at healing the wounds of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Garlands on their heads, the couples, many of whom were already married, passed in procession before a symbolic ceremony by an imam, a rabbi and a pastor.

Some could hardly hold back their tears.

“We were supposed to get engaged on March 24, 2020 in Hawaii, but obviously the pandemic canceled everything,” Erica Hackman told AFP while hanging on her husband Richard’s arm in the festive atmosphere at Damrosch Park.

The couple, who are expecting a child, married on a rooftop the following year with only immediate family members.

“Everyone wore masks,” recalls 35-year-old Erica.

“It was a very small wedding … so now it feels like a really big thing to come out and celebrate with other people who’ve been through the same thing,” said Richard, 37.

— ‘Just celebrate love’ —

Hit hard by the pandemic, New York ground to a halt in 2020, and images of a deserted Times Square and makeshift morgues became emblems of the crisis.

Hosted by Lincoln Center – the famous arts complex on Manhattan’s Upper West Side – the event was billed as a celebration for couples whose weddings had been disrupted.

But everyone was welcome.

Some, like Esther Friesner Stutzman and her husband Walter Stutzman, had been married for decades.

“He promised me a trip to Paris,” she said, smiling.

The gorgeous Lloyd-Kline, who married her wife Anisa in Toronto, Canada, in 2008, was fortunate to have “a day where only love is celebrated.

“We’re a same-sex couple, it’s very important for us to come out and celebrate and show ourselves here as publicly as possible,” the 56-year-old said, before referring to the US Supreme Court’s some fears that it could be about equality of marriage after recently deciding to roll back abortion rights.

Anne-Marie Colon, 59, strolled between the couples with a photo of her fiancé Louis Steven, a Bronx borough professor who died of Covid in April 2020.

“We were supposed to be in Aruba to get married the week he died. And so I thought that coming today would be a beautiful celebration of the life he and I have had for 11 years,” she said.

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