Despite the doom and gloom weather predicted by TV forecasters who called for showers all day on Memorial Day over the prior three days, Mother Nature was not having any of it! To the absolute amazement of the parade committee and others, the skies cleared and bathed Third Avenue and the rest of the parade route with bright sunshine. However, because of the stormy predictions, some scheduled groups changed plans and missed the parade.
Nonetheless, Brooklyn›s 149th annual Kings County Memorial Day Parade stepped up Third Avenue and then over to John Paul Jones Park at 101st Street, led for the first time by the West Point Band from the U.S. Military Academy. Also marching was the U.S. Air Force Ceremonial Honor Guard contingent from Washington, D.C., and sailors and Marines from the ships that took part in Fleet Week.
World War II Navy veteran Jerome Cohen, a retired New York State Supreme Court justice, a past Kings County commander of Jewish War Veterans, and later JWV national commander was the 2016 grand marshal. Deputy marshals included Dr. Charles Hall, Deputy Inspector Ray Festino, former 68th Precinct commander and now chief of detectives for Brooklyn South, and band leader and civic activitist Frankie Marra.
Also in the line of march and then serving as reviewing officer was Colonel Joseph Davidson, the Army garrison commander at Fort Hamilton. Davidson has completed his two-year stint here and will be moving up to West Point as the new deputy commandant of the U.S. Military Academy.
This year’s parade featured four floats. They included eye-catching platforms for veterans from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Catholic War veterans and a float hosted by the United Military Veterans of Kings County.
Riding on one of the floats was America’s Tenor, former NYPD 68th Precinct officer Danny Rodriguez, now a Bay Ridge resident, who also sang the National Anthem at the post-parade ceremonies in John Paul Jones Park. The program included a 21-gun cannon salute, a wreath-laying, raising the flag from half-staff and taps.
The USA National Miss Scholarship organization contacted the parade chair Ray Aalbue and said it would be honored if its young ladies from states across the nation could march, remember and help memorialize the fallen Armed Forces patriots. So the Young Miss title-holders from the nationwide group marched, and presented the parade committee with a large banner that read, USA National Miss Saluting our Military that was signed by all the girls from divisions that included preteen, junior teen, miss, princess and junior princess.