BY JOE MARVILLI
While Memorial Day is known as the unofficial start of summer, it is also a time to honor our veterans for their service to the community and the nation.
While a few have struggled to stay on their feet, all of this year’s parades will give Queens residents the chance to line the streets of their communities, cheering for their veterans.
One of the biggest parades in Queens, the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, almost did not happen this year. The organization that was in charge of the festivities dissolved earlier this year. The United War Veterans Council directed the community to get involved.
“They said the community has to step up or this parade won’t happen again. So we stepped up,” parade co-chair Doug Montgomery said. “I became co-chair with Charlie McBride. We’ve been working feverishly to get everything up and running.”
Thanks to these efforts, the parade is set to march down Northern Boulevard, starting at 2 p.m. on May 26.
Five grand marshals were selected for this year’s parade. Army Lieutenant Colonel John W. Peterkin (Ret.) served for two years in Korea during that conflict and returned to service during the Vietnam War. Thomas Dent survived the Pearl Harbor attack, before fighting for his country. Rocco Moretto and John McHugh, Sr. fought with the 1st Infantry on Omaha Beach in 1944. Lucy Salpeter joined the Navy WAVES, where she cared for the wounded during WWII.
“Our theme this year is honoring the Greatest Generation and the men who sacrificed their lives so we can live how we live now,” Montgomery said.
To donate to the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, visit www.lndmemorialday.org or call (718) 428-5851.
Another struggling parade is the Whitestone Memorial Day Parade, which had difficulty getting people to take part and raising funds from the community.
“It’s tough getting younger veterans involved,” Devon O’Connor, president of the Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association, said.
According to O’Connor, several associations have been trying to raise money for the parade. One such event is the Americana Spring Fling, on May 17 at 7:30 p.m. Taking place in the American Legion Hall, located at 10-20 Clintonville St., Whitestone, the event includes music, a buffet dinner and cash bar and costs $35 per person.
The parade starts on May 26 at noon in Whitestone Memorial Park, at the corner of 149th Street and 15th Drive.
“It’s basically a staple of the community. Everyone comes to the parade, marches in the parade,” he said.
If you want to donate to the parade, make your check out to the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association and mail it or drop it off to the American Legion Hall.
Many more parades will be making their mark on Queens for Memorial Day weekend.
The Laurelton Memorial Day Parade will kick off at 9 a.m. at Francis Lewis Boulevard and Merrick Boulevard. Featuring a performance by the Pathfinders Marching Band, the trek will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle.
Marching down Metropolitan Avenue will be the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade, run by the Forest Hills Kiwanis
Club and the American Legion Continental Post 1424. The three grand marshals selected for that parade are Community Board 6 chair Joseph Hennessy, commissioner of the Office of Veteran Affairs Terrance Holliday and the monsignor of Our Lady of Mercy, John McGuirl. The parade kicks off at noon on May 25.
Maspeth’s parade, taking place on May 25 at 1 p.m., will honor women in the military. The route starts at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park at Grand Avenue and 72nd Street.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.