The Bay Ridge Memorial Day Parade may need a memorial parade of its own if organizers can’t come up with $20,000 necessary to put on the march down Third Avenue.
Organizers say that this year’s parade — the 144th version of the nation’s oldest continuously run war memorial march — could be its last if the government and community doesn’t bite the bullet and buck-up soon.
“We only have half of what we need to run the parade [in 2011],” said Raymond P. Aalbue, vice chairman of the United War Veterans of Kings County Memorial Day Parade Committee.
The lack of funds has led organizers to cut marching bands in this year’s parade from 10 last year to three or four this year, and now they can only afford two buses to pick up the veterans who march in the parade — meaning many of them will be forced to get there on their own. Worst of all, without money in the kitty, next year’s parade is in jeopardy.
“We’re doubting next year,” said Aalbue. “That’s why we need as much support and participation from the community as we can get.”
The biggest hole in this year’s parade budget opened up when state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) couldn’t pull together the $7,000 in state funds that he has allocated to the event the past five years. Fortunately, the group had scrounged up $10,000, thanks to private donations from locals.
Aalbue said the veterans will still march this year whether they have enough money or not, and is hoping the community will lend a hand in honoring the veterans.
“We have to remember the people who gave their lives and their families,” said Aalbue. “I hope people will rally together to make this a proper parade.”
News of the shortage propelled Golden, Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge) to donate a combined $2,500 to the parade, but that still leaves the committee $7,500 short.
According to chairman Peter De Angelis, there will be a fundraiser for the parade, though no specific time or place has been issued.
Send donations to United War Veterans Memorial Day Parade, PO Box 09-0233, Brooklyn, NY 11209. For info, visit www.brooklynmemorialdayparade.com or call (917) 873-1508.