Veterans Day motorcade to parade through Bay Ridge

Veterans Connie Ranocchia, Ray Aalbue and Danny Friedman salute the flag outside of the Brooklyn Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Ray Aalbue

A Bay Ridge motorcade will pay tribute to the country’s military members on Veterans Day while also abiding by state and city coronavirus mandates, a Brooklyn chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America announced Monday.

Vietnam Veterans of America Thomas Coughlin Chapter 72 will host “Brooklyn’s Veterans Day Motorcade” starting at noon on Nov. 11.

Participating vehicles will line up on Bay Ridge Parkway between Third Avenue and Ridge Boulevard, and the procession will make its way along Third to Marine Avenue. The bevy of antique military vehicles carrying organizers, service members, and their families will then make a left towards Fort Hamilton Parkway, where the motorcade will continue on to the site of the Brooklyn Veterans Affair Hospital at 800 Poly Pl.

There, participants will lay wreaths at the monuments on the medical center’s grounds and bagpipers will play Taps.

“We’re really excited about it — it’s something that hasn’t been done before,” said Ray Aalbue, executive director of the United Military Veterans of Kings County, which advocates for veterans’ causes and is the sponsor of Brooklyn’s Kings County Memorial Day Parade — the oldest continuously run Memorial Day commemoration in the country.

While this is the “inaugural” Veteran’s Day motorcade in the neighborhood, Aalbue said, the Vietnam veterans group was inspired by how his group pivoted to celebrate Memorial Day amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s going to be very socially distant. We’re going to pay close attention and play by the rules,” he said, adding that all participants will have to wear face masks. “But I think it’s very important that we still do this. We weren’t able to have any of the parades that Bay Ridge is used to last season, but we did have a motorcade on Memorial Day and it made such a great impact on all of the veterans and on the community that Chapter 72 really wanted to make this happen.”

Aalbue himself will be riding in a 1946 Willys Jeep, but spectators can also be on the lookout for a “Deuce and a Half” and an antique yellow taxi cab, among other storied vehicles.

“We’re all looking forward to beeping our horns and making some noise along Third Avenue in support of our veterans,” he said.

And when the motorcade makes its way to the VA, Aalbue said, those horns will honk for veteran patients inside the hospitals — and for all those nurses and caretakers who have serviced military members for so many years, and throughout the pandemic.

“We really owe them our thanks,” Aalbue said. “Especially this year.”