The veterans organizations that fund the annual Whitestone Memorial Day Parade have fallen on hard times, but community organizations are doing their part to make sure a staple of the neighborhood lives on.
“It’s basically saying, ‘Let’s not let the tradition die,’” said Michael Seeley, financial officer for the American Legion Post No. 131 in Whitestone. “And the local organizations are stepping up.”
The Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League, which runs sports leagues for youngsters in the area, will be hosting a dinner-dance Saturday night to benefit the parade. All the proceeds will go toward covering the costs of the parade, which typically run in the $15,000 range.
There will be a buffet, an open bar and disc jockey, according to Jay Vigorito, president of the league.
“I heard that they were struggling for funds for the parade,” he said. “If we can give them a shot in the arm, we’ll do it.”
Vigorito, who was born in Whitestone and grew up watching the parade, said he already has about 100 people confirmed to come to the dinner, which is slightly shy of his goal of 150.
But he said he will have food for just more than 100 just in case.
When the dinner-dance comes to an end, he hopes to be able to give the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association, the consortium that runs the parade, about $3,000.
The association is made up of the Whitestone branches of the American Legion, the Jewish War Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Each year they come together and split the cost of the parade.
But with membership and money drying up, financing the parade is becoming no easy task, according to Seeley.
In November, the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association cut the association a check for $4,000 to help with parade costs.
And now Dwarf Giraffe has stepped up to the plate, along with the Welcome to Whitestone Residential and Commercial Civic Association.
“Last year I heard the parade wasn’t doing so well as far as funding, so I wanted to figure out a way to raise some funds through the civic,” said Devon O’Connor, president and founder of Welcome to Whitestone.
He started the website whitestonememorialdayparade.com, in hopes that it will bring awareness to the veterans organizations’ needs.
Along with helping to advertise the dinner-dance, O’Connor is also trying to drum up awareness by asking anyone with pictures of parades in the past to submit them online.
And the fund-raising will not stop with the last song Saturday: Dwarf Giraffe is also planning to host another event Feb. 26.
The league already offers Zumba classes, which is a pseudo dance and aerobic workout, but in February it hopes to raise money with Zumbathon, a marathon sweat session that will cost entrants $20. The last Zumbathon the league held to benefit breast cancer raked in $12,000.
Saturday’s dinner-dance will be held at the Dwarf Giraffe gym, at 149-50 15th Road in Whitestone, from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community News Group
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