Leading as the grand marshal in Brooklyn’s 112th annual American Independence Day Parade, New York City Police Department Sergeant Conor McDonald walked with a crowd in memory of his late father, fallen NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, on Saturday, June 24.
The parade, the oldest of its kind in Brooklyn, is sponsored by the Long Island Assembly and the Knights of Columbus. The 112th installment kicked off at 11 a.m. and stretched from Bergen to Luquer Street along Court Street with a pre-parade service and ceremony which began at 9:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church. Prior to its relocation to Downtown Brooklyn, the parade spent several years on 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights.
Festivities this year featured bagpipes, officers and even vintage cars in anticipation of July 4. According to Ted General, public relations director for the parade, the celebration’s committee found a while ago that “the holiday interfered with the turnout,” and it has since been celebrated a week in advance to better suit the crowd.
General said that despite a rainy forecast there were enough people to line either side of Court Street throughout the celebration.
Posthumously, the parade committee awarded third generation NYPD officer McDonald with the Pro-Patria Award, which was given to his wife, Patricia Ann, at the pre-parade service and ceremony. McDonald, whose family marched in the parade in his memory, is best remembered for forgiving the 15-year-old who shot him three times in Central Park in July of 1986, leaving him a quadriplegic in need of a ventilator for the remainder of his life. Before the NYPD, McDonald served as a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman.
McDonald died in January of this year, just a few days after a massive heart attack at the age of 59. At the funeral, police officers numbering in the thousands crowded the street outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the city to pay their respects.
“It was very exciting to have the McDonald family at the parade, because having them encourages people,” said General, adding that, “What we’re commemorating is the birth of America.”