May 22, 1963 - New York City took Major Gordon Cooper to its heart today with a triumphal parade, a welcome at City Hall, and an official luncheon. It was an old-time New York outpouring of excitement and admiration that left the 36-year-old astronaut almost speechless. The way the city felt toward the slim, smiling Air Force officer seemed epitomized by a hand-lettered sign that a group of schoolchildren held high above their heads early on the start of his parade through 20 miles of Queens and Manhattan streets. It said simply: “New York City loves you.” The police long ago stopped making estimates of crowds such as those that cheered Major Cooper today. An unofficial estimate given at City Hall was that perhaps as many as 4 million New Yorkers or visitors saw him somewhere along the way. One solid statistic came from the New York Sanitation Department. When its automatic sweepers and its crew of men had finished the clean-up job, an official said 2,900 tons of debris had been swept up along the parade route.
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