A local Memorial Day parade billed as the country’s largest and longest-running commemoration kicked off on Monday, marching through the streets of Bay Ridge in loving memory of those who have served the United States of America.
Brooklyn’s 155th annual Memorial Day Parade stepped off at 11 am on May 30 near the corner of Third Avenue and 78th Street. The parade, which has called the southern Brooklyn nabe home for more than three decades, then proceeded down Third Avenue, up to Marine Avenue and then Fourth Avenue, before heading to John Paul Jones Park for a memorial service including bag pipes, flag raising, taps, a wreath laying by veteran service organizations and a 21-gun salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery.
Brooklyn’s Memorial Day Parade began on Eastern Parkway in 1867, where it was held for a number of years before a brief tenure in Park Slope and Windsor Terrace on Prospect Park West.
The annual event was founded just after the end of the Civil War, when veterans from the battles between the Union and the Confederacy joined forces with alumni of previous wars to remember those who died.
Monday’s in-person parade marked its return to a full-scale celebration, as the parade organizers pivoted to smaller motorcades during the last two years due to the pandemic.
“It was terrific, we had a big turnout,” Raymond Aalbue, chairman of the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade, told Brooklyn Paper. “I think people were really waiting for this.”
This year’s grand marshal was James Hendon, commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services, and the deputy grand marshal was Donald LaSala, commander, Catholic War Veterans OLPH Post 5. Honorary marshals included all of the city’s first responders and essential workers who kept New York City running during COVID.
“We thank all of our First Responders who kept us safe, and our Essential workers: the restaurants and stores, and their employees, who were there for us every day,” the Memorial Day Parade Committee wrote on its website.
There in representation to march through Bay Ridge were: Colonel Patrick J. Mahaney (Jr. USA, retired), Josephine Imperatrice (Army veteran and nurse at Maimonides Medical Center), Kevin Cottingham (Assistant Vice President of Operations at Maimonides Medical Center), Battalion Chief Daniel Keane (FDNY), James McGuire (FDNY EMS), Mir Ali (FDNY EMT), Theus Davis (Air Force Veteran and Police Officer NYPD), Eddie Sarkis (Sanitation), Jerry Gatti (Sanitation), David Walter (Transit), Luis Dominguez (USPS), Sal D’Alessio (CERT), Ricki James (School Security, US Army Northeast Area Support Group).
Among the cadre of elected officials in attendance was Mayor Eric Adams, who Aalbue said had some “inspiring words” for the crowd.
“Everybody really came together,” Aalbue said, thanking this year’s participants, volunteers and sponsors.