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Despite setbacks, area Memorial Day parades go on

"I've been doing this for eight or nine years now," he said. "We have lots of problems this year in particular because the Parks Department raised their fees and insurance rates. We had trouble getting enough flatbed trucks for the floats. That made it difficult."The parade costs $24,000, but Mazzarello said the College Point Citizens for Memorial Day have only collected a little over $20,000. The organization is still seeking contributions for this year's festivities. Although short on cash, Mazzarello said he is not worried about falling short since many of the contributions come in after the parade actually occurs.Despite his faint concerns over the money, Mazzarello, who served in Okinawa during World War II for five years, said this year's parade will be bigger and better than ever.The parade begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday at 26th Avenue and College Point Boulevard in College Point.Features include a special appearance of Miss U.S.O., Lynelle Johnson, who will sing "God Bless America," Grand Marshal Joan Vogt, Miss Poppy Queen Elizabeth Olsen, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Whitestone), U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and possibly Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has marched in the College Point Memorial Day Parade each year since becoming the mayor."I'm pretty sure the mayor is going to be there," said Mazzarello. "We never find out until the last minute. They don't like to announce it too early."The parade will have all the classic participants, including more than 100 marines in the city for Fleet Week, antique cars and over 10 marching bands.Speaking of Memorial Day, Mazzarello said the event should be viewed as a time for reflection rather than a celebration."You don't celebrate someone's death," he said. "You honor it and you pay your respects to the dead. That's why we make the parade bigger and better every year if we can."The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will take place on Monday at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park on 149th Street and 15th Drive. Participants include the 109th Precinct police and firefighters. It is being hosted by the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4787, Jewish War Veterans Post 415 and the American Legion Post 131.Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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