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Little Neck’s 78th Memorial parade takes shape

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"It's really going to be wonderful, an absolute delight," said Jim Rodgers, chairman of the organizing committee. "It's a lot of fun." This year's parade, scheduled for Memorial Day, May 30, will feature many of the familiar spectacles found in past years' events, including popular participants the USO Torch Singers, the Teddy Roosevelt Rough Riders, and the Federation of Black Cowboys. For the first time, an out-of-state band from a Nebraska high school will also be marching in the parade, Rodgers said. Last year Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D. N.Y.) marched in the parade along with a handful of other dignitaries, and everyone has been invited back for a repeat appearance, according to Rodgers.The festivities will begin on Memorial Day with a 10 a.m. interfaith service at the Community Church of Douglaston at 39-50 Douglaston Parkway, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony in the St. Anastasia's courtyard at the corner of Northern Boulevard and Alameda Avenue at 11 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast inside the school. The parade is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Capt. Donald Ferguson, director of external affairs at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, will be the grand marshal of the parade as it winds along Northern Boulevard from Jayson Street 1.5 miles west to St. Anastasia's courtyard at Alameda Boulevard, where the procession will conclude with free hot dogs and lemonade for participants and spectators alike. Billed as the nation's largest Memorial Day parade, the event will focus this year on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Many area schools have participated in the annual art and essay contests centered on the theme, with awards to be announced at a special ceremony at Fort Totten on May 20. In addition, the parade's organizing committee is honoring several local community leaders. Georgiana Reese, a community relations consultant at Queens County Savings Bank, has been chosen as Woman of the Year. Bruce Bendell, chief executive officer of Major Automotive Companies and director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, is the Man of the Year. "These are people who have demonstrated community awareness," Rodgers said. "Both Georgiana and Bruce clearly, vis a vis through their companies, have helped many community activities and they're very philanthropic." In addition, former Community Board 11 Chairman Bernard Haber, a retired civil engineer, is being honored with the Douglas S. MacKay Community Service Award for his lifetime of work on behalf of northeast Queens. The Caffe on the Green and owner Joe Franco will also be presented with the Business Community Service Award. "It's a great cause, and I'm very honored," Franco said.The committee also every year selects two youths of the year, to be announced before the parade. And while it's never known until the last minute whether the parade's arguable highlight, the military aircraft flyover, will be able to happen, Rodgers said that he has high hopes for the salute's feasibility this year."I requested the flyover, but their resources are stretched a little thin this year," he said. "But if they're able to do it, they certainly will." Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com , or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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