Brooklyn’s 115th American Independence Day Parade — the oldest, longest-running march of its kind across the city — took place in Sunset Park for the first time ever on Sunday, July 3.
The parade, which has taken place in different Brooklyn neighborhoods throughout the decades, kicked off at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, and made its way down the thoroughfare toward 43rd Street. The procession included marching bands, people dressed in historic revolutionary uniforms, bagpipes, and more.
“It’s exciting to see people remember the fact that America is now over 200 years of age,” said Ted General, civic leader and former Grand Marshal of the Brooklyn Independence Day Parade. “We see more and more people are eager to become citizens in the United States. Usually when they petition to become citizens, they’re so proud. At swearing in ceremonies, you see how happy they go out to be American citizens. That’s what we’re all about, the goal is to promote that pride.”
Brooklyn was a key location through the Revolutionary War. At the August 27, 1776 Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn, the British army defeated Americans troops and gained access to the highly strategic port of New York. It was the first major battle after the United States declared independence on July 4, and in troop deployment and combat, it was the largest battle of the war.
Brooklyn’s tradition of marking Independence Day with a parade began in Prospect Park West. Later, it was commemorated in Bay Ridge for 13 years before it moved to Dyker Heights followed by Carroll Gardens.
“The parade rotates among the Brooklyn communities,” General said. “We had a pretty good turnout. It’s just a smaller parade than some, for other holidays, that happen in the city. We brought it to Sunset Park so more and more people would see it.”
While some Independence Day parades took place on Monday, Brooklyn organizers opted for Sunday instead, the day before the national holiday, when more marchers and local groups would be available.
The 2022 celebration started with a mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help “to bless the festivities” said General, followed by an award ceremony.
This year’s grand marshal was Frank Siller, CEO and founder of the Tunnel to Towers foundation, dedicated to supporting veterans and first responders with mobility disabilities by constructing “smart” houses. The organization’s board member, Lieutenant Jack Kielty, accepted the award on Siller’s behalf.
Bishop Paul Sanchez was presented with the Pro Patria award. Latin for patriotism, the prestigious recognition is awarded to commanders at the Fort Hamilton army base.
Spectators watched on the sidewalks as American revolutionary war reenactor Norman Coman led the procession.
“It’s an old-fashioned flag-wave patriotic parade,” said General. “We want to keep alive the respect for the American flag and for the country as a whole.”
The parade will take place in Sunset Park again next year, organizers said.