By Ale Russian
Updated January 20, 2017 09:59 AM
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Thousands of New Yorkers gathered outside President-elect Donald Trump’s Columbus Circle Trump Hotel to protest on the eve of his inauguration.

The protest totaled from 20,000 to 25,000 people according to staff and stretched down six blocks of Central Park West. Organized by Fisher Stevens, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Moore, the event featured prominent speakers protesting the incoming Trump administration while calling for opposers to unite and continue to protest through Trump’s presidency.

Credit: James Devaney/WireImage

After an opening speech by Rosie Perez, Oscar winner Robert De Niro came onstage to introduce New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. “I’m very happy to be here tonight with all of you and all of my overrated friends,” De Niro quipped at the beginning of his speech before reading hypothetical made-up tweets from Trump about him.

The actor has spoken in support of his friend Meryl Streep after the President-elect tweeted that she was “overrated” after she spoke against him while accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

Credit: James Devaney/WireImage
Credit: D Dipasupil/Getty Images
Credit: James Devaney/WireImage
Credit: Ale Russian

Mayor de Blasio then addressed the crowd, saying, “Tomorrow, Donald Trump will have power. But tomorrow, you will have power as well. Donald Trump may control the agenda in Washington, but we control our agenda as Americans.”

Notable among the speakers was longtime New Yorker Alec Baldwin, who reprised his famous Saturday Night Live impression of the President-elect. “I just wanna say I’ve been standing out here in the freezing cold for a long time. I have to go to the bathroom, I have to pee. But I’m holding it in, I’m holding it in, I’m not gonna pee,” the actor-comedian said as Trump, possibly alluding to the unverified documents BuzzFeed posted accusing the President-elect of perverse sexual acts.

After his impression drew cheers from the crowd, Baldwin commented on the incoming administration and the resilience of New Yorkers. “Donald Trump and Steve Bannon and Mike Pence and all these people that are part of the Trump Administration, they think that you are gonna lay down. The one thing they don’t realize is that New Yorkers never lay down,” Baldwin told the crowd.

Baldwin then got personal with the crowd when he mentioned his three young children with wife Hilaria Baldwin and urged the parents in attendance to start teaching their children about the current events. “The last thing I’m gonna say is about our children. My wife and I have three little children. For all of you out there that have children, to a degree, they’re never too young for you to start to teach them about what’s going on here. They’re never too young for you to teach them what a real American is,” Baldwin concluded.

One father at the march told PEOPLE that he felt it was important to talk to his 6-year-old daughter about Trump and explain to her what was happening in terms she could understand. He said that it felt special to be sharing the moment with her.

“Hopefully she’ll realize that we were trying to make the world a little bit better,” said Jeremy Hook about bringing his daughter Holly to the march.

The protesters were a varied mix of ages, demographics and genders. Most people had homemade signs and listened along to the speeches through Facebook Live videos — since the speakers didn’t reach the crowds in the back — even though they were a few minutes behind.

Credit: Ale Russian
Credit: Ale Russian

The scene at the protest remained calm throughout the speeches, with the large crowd mostly standing in place and alternating between listening and cheering to the rotation of speakers. Stretching all the way back to 66th Street alongside Central Park, the protest had an atmosphere that was more hopeful and determined than angry.

Some protesters had a special emotional connection to the events. Lesley Watson, who told PEOPLE she felt motivated to get involved thanks to the example of her great-grandmother. “My great-grandmother was 102 when she died in 1992, so she got the right to vote and she never missed an election,” Watson said through tears. “Her entire life she voted in every election, she was very active. I think it makes me realize that women need to stick together and stand up for each other. We as women have a real opportunity now.”

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Watson’s friend and coworker Tameka Green — who was sharing her phone with Watson so they could both catch the speeches — agreed that events like the rally were helping her cope with the disappointment she’s felt since the election. “It still shocks me that tomorrow [the inauguration] is finally here and this is a way for me to prepare for that and rally with other people that feel similar. It also makes me feel even more connected to the movement,” Green explained.

“I’m kinda sad, I’m angry, but I’m also feeling a lot more positive because of things like this,” she added. Both Green and Watson plan to participate in this weekend’s Women’s Marches in New York and Washington, D.C., respectively.

The protest concluded after two hours with all the speakers on stage leading the crowd in a singalong of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” Other notable speakers at the event were Julianne Moore, Rev. Al Sharpton, Cynthia Nixon, Cher, Shailene Woodley, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Moore.