A group of activists who for years have protested New York City's Saint Patrick's Day Parade's prohibition on gay groups participated in Thursday's march.

“I never thought I'd see the day when I could march up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick's Day Parade with my husband,” Brendan Fay, chairman of the Lavender and Green Alliance, told the AP. “When we started in 1991, after getting arrested so many times for protesting the parade, wow, what a moment this is.”

Parade organizers have for years claimed that allowing gay groups in the parade would divert attention from the parade's focus. Courts have upheld their right to decide who can participate in the march.

In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to march in the parade, opting instead to participate in a much smaller but gay-inclusive event. Corporate sponsors Heineken and Guinness also withdrew their support.

An NBCUnivesal affinity group last year became the first gay group to participate in the parade.

“Today, everyone is celebrating together,” De Blasio told reporters from the parade route. “Today, the city is at peace, and the city is unified, and we all feel tremendous pride in all of the people who brought us together.”

Some Catholics have criticized the move. The Catholic League, a vocal opponent of LGBT rights, ended its participation last year.