157th Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade triumphs over rain, draws thousands to Bay Ridge

The 157th Kings County Memorial Day Parade stepped off in Bay Ridge on Monday, May 27.
Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Brooklyn’s 157th Memorial Day Parade weathered the storm on Monday, May 27, drawing crowds to Bay Ridge’s Third Avenue despite the rainy weather.

The march stepped off at 11 a.m. near the corner of Third Avenue and 78th Street before making its way toward John Paul Jones Park, where Veteran Service Organizations hosted a flag raising and wreath laying, followed by a 21-gun salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery.

Thousands lined the thoroughfare, applauding and cheering as marching bands, veterans, military vehicles and decorative floats and displays passed.

Veteran Service Organizations hosted a flag raising and wreath laying at John Paul Jones Park after the parade.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta
The parade stepped off on Third Avenue and 78th Street.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta
Locals lined the streets waving signs in support of the nation’s veterans.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

The Kings County Memorial Day Parade, a Brooklyn tradition for more than 150 years, honors around 55,000 veterans who call Brooklyn home. Established in 1867, it remains among the longest-running big-city marches, and is lauded as the nation’s oldest Memorial Day parade.

The parade route originally ran along Eastern Parkway until 1985, when it moved to Prospect Park West, and later to Bay Ridge — its home for the last three decades.

Brooklyn’s Memorial Day parade was as risk of cancellation in 2011 due to a lack of funds, but the community rallied to save the event. The following year, the parade’s organizing board became a nonprofit, allowing leaders to raise funds for the parade year-round.

There was live entertainment at John Paul Jones Park following the parade.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta
Kids of all ages lined the streets.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, is a federal holiday that honors and remembers the men and women who have died in military service to the country. The holiday’s origins date back to the years after the Civil War, when people began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and flags.

It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 — one year after the Brooklyn parade reportedly began.