A procession of electricians riding American-made motorcycles, a delegation of black cowboys and a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator are all set to march in the 76th annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade.
The parade's organizing committee has been busy finalizing the list of honorees and participants and soliciting donations for the May 26 march, traditionally one of the nation's largest.
"This is shaping up to be the most impressive parade we've ever had," said Victor Mimoni, the parade organization's spokesman.
This year's grand marshal is Col. Eugene Lombardo, who served in the Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the Berlin Wall and Cuban Missile crises. Lombardo is also the executive director of the United Service Organizations of Metro New York.
Expected to participate in this year's march is the 3rd U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps, also known as "the Old Guard," which performs at ceremonial events around the country in colonial uniforms.
In addition to the traditional color guard, USO singers and Fire Department bagpipers, a diverse group of marchers is scheduled for the parade.
About 100 military veterans from Local 3 of the Electrical Workers' union will parade down Northern Boulevard on their American-made motorcycles.
Members of the Federation of Black Cowboys, a Howard Beach organization that promotes the history of black American cowboys in the western expansion of the United States, have committed to participating, Mimoni said.
Other scheduled participants include a man from Oyster Bay, L.I., Theodore Roosevelt's hometown, who bears a striking resemblance to the former president when surrounded by his fellow "Rough Riders."
The parade starts at 2 p.m. and runs along Northern Boulevard from Jayson to Alameda avenues.
"It's going to be spectacular," he said.
Local schools will soon be receiving announcements about the parade group's art and essay contest, open to all area schoolchildren in kindergarten through ninth grade.
The theme of this year's parade and contest is "The Spirit of '76," in keeping with the 76th year of the parade.
Students will be asked to explore how the United States defends its freedom today in essays, poems and art projects and will be honored in a pizza dinner with state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) on May 23.
Parental consent forms for the contest can be picked up in schools and the public libraries at 249-01 Northern Blvd. and 57-04 Marathon Parkway. The deadline for entries is May 8.
Mimoni said the group's dinner dance at Terrace on the Park in February had raised more than $16,800, with another $1,500 to be recovered from a possible state sales tax exemption.
An extra $900 was left over from last year's parade, the first time the event had been completed with excess money, Mimoni said.
Honored at the dinner dance were Man of the Year Joseph M. Mattone, Woman of the Year Gloria Bodie of the Douglaston Garden Club and Udalls Cove Preservation Committee, St. Anastasia's Msgr. Michael Cantley and Mohsen Zandieh of Arash Real Estate.
Mailings will be sent out this week to 10,000 community residents in search of contributions, since last year's event cost about $48,000, Mimoni said.
The money raised by the parade committee also goes to providing medical supplies for needy disabled veterans, educational programs for children and maintenance of war memorials.
And as in any large event, volunteers are needed.
"We are, of course, always looking for anyone in the neighborhood who wants to come down and help with the parade in any way they can," Mimoni said.
Meetings of the parade organization are held Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in the annex of St. Anastasia Church, at 244-02 Northern Blvd.
Given the war in Iraq, Mimoni expects a high turnout for the parade.
"It's especially poignant this year," he said. "The way things are, I couldn't see staying away."
Contributions to the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Organization Inc. can be sent to 42-28 Douglaston Parkway, Douglaston, NY 11363-1528. For more information, call 718-279-3200 or visit memorialda
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2003 Community News Group
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