America’s birthday isn’t until July 4, but Dyker Heights threw a party five days early.
The celebration parade down 13th Avenue on June 29 was hardly a surprise, but, this patriot procession organized by the Knights of Columbus for the 108th year definitely makes it the oldest in New York City.
Hundreds gathered on the sidewalks between 71st and 86th streets to watch the cavalcade of classic cars, military color guards, historical re-enactors, Scout troops, and a trio of singers from the United Service Organizations. Heading up the red-white-and-blue review was grand marshal Rick Kenney, a Marine Corps vet, former grand knight of the Greenpoint chapter of the Knights of Columbus, and the founder of the Manhattan Avenue Memorial Day Parade.
Organizers of the Brooklyn Independence Day Parade said they selected Kenney for his history of service.
“They look for somebody who’s prominent in Brooklyn,” said Ted General, a member of the parade committee and the 2012 grand marshal. “And he’s been involved in many community activities.”
At 86th Street, a group of marchers went into the Knights of Columbus building, where the Catholic organization’s leaders conferred the prestigious Pro-Patria upon Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, director of the Office of Parish Giving and vicar for development for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Gigantiello joined an impressive list of award recipients that includes former Staten Island congressman and borough president Guy Molinari and United States Vice President Spiro Agnew, who served under Richard Nixon.
General noted Gigantiello’s prominence in the borough diocese and charitable fund-raising.
“He’s got a really high profile position with Brooklyn Diocese and they count on him heavily for special events,” said General.
The Knights also bestowed their Father Brogan Community Service Awards on the New York City Community Emergency Response Team — a federally-organized disaster relief group — and to the BRAVO Volunteer Ambulance Service for their work during Hurricane Sandy.