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Bloomberg, Marshall lead Forest Hills holiday parade

The Dolphins, an honor guard from the Naval Submarine School in Groton, Conn.; the Knights, an international motorcycle club; and Brownie Troop 4608 were among the dozens of groups that trailed Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Borough President Helen Marshall, who led the parade.

Hundreds cheered and waved American flags as the procession made its way from 107th Street to Remsen Cemetery on Trotting Course Lane.

"It's good to see the American Spirit, you know," said Jerry Malkes of Long Island, reclining on a lawn chair. "Especially now that a war is going on. It's good that people remember the old timers. Their numbers are dwindling all the time."

Bloomberg expressed a similar sentiment an hour later during a speech in the cemetery. He noted that the war that began Sept. 11, 2001 "on the streets of New York City" continues in Iraq.

"The cost of freedom is dear," Bloomberg said, adding that Memorial Day is "a weekend to have some fun. It's also a weekend to remember."

As a trumpet player with the All-City High School Marching Band, 16-year-old Matthew Memis said he got do both.

He said it was an honor to march in Forest Hills with the all-city band, comprised of the best musicians from the New York City public schools. As a Bayside native, he said it was a special treat to be in Queens.

"It's fun," Memis said. "It's something to do besides stay at home this weekend."

Members of the Blue Knights, who rode up front on gleaming Harleys, said it was a great day for riding - and for parades.

"It's absolutely a beautiful day," said George Turtorro, treasurer for club Chapter 16 in New York. "It's terrific."

But his comrade said it was important to keep in mind the essence of the celebration: to give thanks to the millions of servicemen who gave their lives for freedom.

"It's not just another barbecue and people forget that," said his friend, who gave her name as Spike.

Alice Drobbin, a den mother for the Brownies and Girl Scout Troop 4021 from PS 90, made a point of tempering her charge's enthusiasm with a dose of reverence. Some of her girls who were not marching screamed and waved red, white and blue banners as the parade unfolded. But she shushed them when the riderless horse strolled by.

"Now girls this horse has no rider," Drobbin said. "It signifies people that died in the war."

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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