"What can I do?" Krevatas, who has lived in the north Queens neighborhood for 50 years, said in mock exasperation as Ariana banged away. "She is going to keep going."Winding north on College Point Boulevard from 26th Avenue to MacNeil Park, the parade under relentlessly sunny skies brought together residents and civic leaders in a salute to the past and current soldiers who protect the country. The parade was sponsored by the College Point Citizens for Memorial Day and spearheaded by Board of Trade President Fred Mazzarello, with Northeast Queens Historic Preservation Commission President Joan Vogt serving as grand marshal.Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped lead the parade in one of his six or seven appearances at borough events during the weekend."We used to have parades all throughout the country on Memorial Day and sadly, that's not true anymore," Bloomberg said in a pre-parade address in front of the Woodcrest Rehabilitation Center. "Memorial Day is the right day to remember to say 'thank you.'"Borough President Helen Marshall told the spectators to always remember the country's heroes."A nation who forgets those who defended us is a nation lost," she said.By turns rowdy, solemn, fun and patriotic, the parade spurred College Pointers to reflect on duty on a day off."We have to remember the people who served the country. Our country can't forget them," said Man Chen, who sat outside his Graham Court house with his mother and his baby daughter waving at passing marchers. Speaking in Mandarin Chinese, Chen said the message of Memorial Day was clear."We honor the past. That is what's important," he said.The parade included popular marchers like the St. Solongia's Twirlers from St. Fidelis Church in College Point, with a dozen young girls clad in purple costumes and twirling batons. Local participants like the Francis Lewis marching band and the College Point Volunteer Ambulance Corps drew big cheers from the spectators as well."It's beautiful and really big, too," said Gloria Cabrera, standing outside a friend's home.Curtis Sliwa, president of the Guardian Angels and local icon, marched with his baby daughter, smiling and waving as one person after another shouted out, "Hey, Curtis!"Area elected officials reflected on the true meaning of Memorial Day, with one citing fears that the holiday has become a day of BBQs and beach-going instead of a day of remembrance."We all know people who sacrificed," said state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who spent 30 years in active and reservist duty with the 77th Regional Readiness Command in Fort Totten. "They sacrificed and their families sacrificed. That's what Memorial Day is all about. Service and sacrifice.""You realize how much they gave for us," said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside). "It is the greatest country in the world because of the sacrifices they made."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2005 Community News Group
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