POSTED: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 5:36pm
UPDATED: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 5:49pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Thousands of people lined Market Street in downtown St. Louis for the Welcome Home Heroes Parade that honored troops who fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on Saturday.
St. Louis was the first city in the nation to host a big welcome home parade for Iraq veterans since the troops left Iraq in December.
The Welcome Home Heroes Parade included more than 80 floats, two marching bands and the Budweiser Clydesdales.
People waived American flags and cheered "thank you" as veterans made their way down Market. People also held up Welcome Home signs.
Fire trucks hoisted three huge American flags along the route for the participants to walk under.
In addition to the parade, moving company Mayflower, a co-sponsor of the parade, collected items for homeless veterans.
The tribute began at 9:11 p.m. Friday when volunteers read the names of 6,502 men and women at Soldier's Memorial who died from injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The reading lasted through Saturday morning.