Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten stopped his pickup truck midway through Friday’s parade at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center and stepped from his vehicle.

Facing the gathering of about 50 hospital workers, Wooten bowed before them and said, “Y’all are my heroes.”

Wooten and the sheriff’s office were among several participants in a lengthy parade to honor hospital nurses, doctors and other workers, Friday morning.

The parade route began in a parking lot on the north side of the hospital and progressed past the main entrance, before looping around the rear to make another pass.

Outside, about 50 hospital employees, many of them wearing T-shirts that read “Heroes Work Here” and nearly all donning face masks, lined the entrance and waved.

While the parade was meant to honor the hospital staff, the staff also expressed their appreciation for the sheriff’s office and other parade participants.

Annya Soucy, a spokeswoman for Sentara Albemarle, said the hospital organized the parade as a show of support for the staff, and as a thank-you to all first responders.

“It’s as great morale booster, since we’re all in this together,” she said.

The community was invited to join the parade, but Soucy said she was surprised by the turnout.

“They took it far beyond our expectations,” she said. “We’re really grateful.”

This week also is National Hospital Week, Soucy said.

Other agencies participating in Friday’s parade included the U.S. Coast Guard, which provided a small boat on a trailer and a flyover by an MH-60 helicopter; the Elizabeth City police and fire departments, Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Services, Albemarle Regional Health Services, the N.C. State Employees Credit Union, civilians in privately owned vehicles, and others.