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College Pt. parade spared from Memorial Day deluge

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Hundreds of College Point residents broke out their lawn chairs to cheer on marchers in the community's Memorial Day Parade Sunday, a processional that included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, local politicians and a steady stream of brightly festooned automobiles.

Although the rain just missed the College Point parade, a heavy downpour Monday cancelled Whitestone's Memorial Day parade after the noon ceremonies.

In College Point, Mayor Bloomberg faced some booing the day the city closed six fire companies, including in Long Island City.

"It was pretty bad," said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) of the mayor's reception at the parade.

Onlookers, many of them children dressed in patriotic clothing, lined the parade route on College Point Boulevard from 26th Avenue to Herman A. MacNeil Park on the East River.

Dawn Sieradzki, a former Woodhaven resident who moved to College Point two years ago, came to her first Memorial Day parade in the neighborhood for the benefit of her son Ryan, 6.

"I figured he'd see all the firemen and policemen," she said, calling the parade "a sign of freedom and peace."

Dozens of scout, church and school troops, as well as College Point Little League teams, held up their banners and waved to the crowd to a pounding drumbeat and patriotic brass tunes from a steady stream of high school marching bands.

Among the many participants were the Poppenhusen Institute and the College Point Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which decorated the bed of a truck with mannequins dressed as uniformed solders receiving blood.

Decorated vehicles carried the day, with antique cars, horse-drawn carriages and Caterpillar bulldozers among those making their way up College Point Boulevard. A Queens Surface bus draped in red, white and blue even brought up the rear.

In addition to the cars, the traditional fife and drum corps and baton twirlers entertained parade watchers.

A diverse crowd participated in the parade, including a Buddhist scout troop and members of the New Life Community Church of College Point. Even a delegation of dogs wearing patriotic bandannas eagerly marched along, excited by the attention.

The parade wrapped up just as it began to rain, but the smell of charcoal heating up on barbecue grills wafted through the foggy neighborhood streets nonetheless.

College Point resident Joe Cigala, 85, flew 51 combat missions over Europe during World War II and until recently marched in the parades.

He watched the procession contentedly from a chair on the sidewalk on Sunday.

"I like the parades," he said, which were needed "so (people) know what their country is for, all those veterans who fought and all those who died."

Memorial Day "brings the country together," said Cigala.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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