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Whitestone civic’s donations save Memorial Day Parade

Members of the Howard family -- retired Army Sgt. Gary Howard Jr. (l.-r.), Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance member Eric Howard, Navy veteran and former firefighter Gary Howard Sr. and Navy Senior Chief Michael Howard -- march together in last year's parade. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The Whitestone Memorial Day parade, which has faced financial problems in recent years, will be able to go on as planned this year, thanks to community support.

Members of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayer’s Civic Association have donated a collective $2,000 to make sure the annual parade goes on. Some members donated as much as $250, said association President Kim Cody.

“This has been an institution that’s been around since I’ve been a kid,” he said of the parade.

The future of the parade was put in jeopardy in recent years as city and state funding dried up for the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association, which organizes the parade and is a conglomerate of three veterans posts: the American Legion Post 131, the Jewish War Veterans Post 415 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4787.

Fund-raising efforts have also declined as the number of veterans joining posts has decreased, said Mike Seeley, finance officer of the American Legion Hall. Younger veterans have tended not to join veterans associations and the posts’ memberships are largely made up of World War II-era veterans, whose numbers are dwindling, resulting in a shrinking operating budget, Seeley said.

The association made sure to send out letters through the civic association as well as to other community members this year to appeal for donations to put together the $8,000 needed for the parade.

Among the most generous donations was a $225 check from Palazzo Mason Supplies.

“They know the parade is important to the community,” Cody said.

The association has also sold veterans calendars in past years to fund the parade, but they have not been a popular purchase in recent years, Seeley said.

The American Legion will be hosting a May 17 dinner-dance to raise the remaining funds for this year’s parade. The event will be at the American Legion Hall, at 10-20 Clintonville St., and will cost $35.

The legion is expecting more than 90 people to attend and the event will include music and a buffet dinner with wine, draft beer and soda.

Three or four marching bands will march in the parade, which will take place May 26. The parade will start at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park, at the corner of 149th Street and 15th Drive.

This year’s parade will be saved, but with the veterans associations’ shrinking numbers, its future remains unclear, Cody said.

“Fortunately, we’re going to have the parade this year,” Cody said. “Next year, I’m not sure about it.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 12:00 am, May 9, 2014
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