Bay Ridge – Not even the rain could put a damper on the 150th Kings County Memorial Day Parade. Veterans, local families and well-wishers lined the streets to honor the Americans who gave their lives serving in the armed forces.
The parade set off from 78th Street amid the roar of engines from local motorcycle clubs, which led the procession down Third Avenue. The parade included floats representing veteran’s groups from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, along with military parade bands, bagpipe groups, local ROTC, and high school marching bands.
Joseph Liffey viewed the parade from under the eaves of shop on Third Avenue, sheltered from the rain. He’s been coming to watch every Memorial Day since he moved to Bay Ridge in 1959.
“It’s a good parade,” he said, even with the rain. “The die-hards are always out no matter what.”
And there were plenty of die-hards in attendance—lining the street, braving the elements or standing under umbrellas, with others backed up against the storefronts down Third Ave, seeking a little bit of shelter under the awnings of local businesses.
Along the route, neighbors greeted each other, catching up on conversation while clapping for marchers in the parade. Community leaders and local politicians glad-handed their way through the crowds toward John Paul Jones park, the parade’s terminus.
In the park, a grandstand provided seating for the grand marshals, deputy marshals, event organizers and leaders, who watched as each marching group passed in review, the bands and drumlines providing one last flourish before drifting apart to find a spot in the park.
Daniel Rodriguez, known as “America’s Tenor,” sang the national anthem to start the memorial ceremony, and was followed by a 21-cannon salute from the Veteran’s Corps of Artillery. The loud blasts flashed against the overcast sky again and again as observers in the park jumped then plugged their ears.
Seated on a bench in the park, Eileen Cummings, a Bay Ridge resident of 50 years, listened to the anthem and reflected on her experience of coming to the parade throughout the years. “It’s quiet this year, because of the rain,” she said, “but the music is great, and everyone always enjoys themselves.”
Cummings noted that every year it seemed the presence of police and anti-terror security at the event increased, but said she felt very safe.
“It’s surreal,” she said, “We do live in a wonderful country, but the world is getting more scary. It makes you open your eyes to what people go through, the families waiting back home for them, and the people that gave their lives. You can really see it and feel it.”
All images by Paul Stremple for BKLYNER