All day benefit helps raise funds for 152nd Memorial Day Parade

Parade supporters packed Patsy’s restaurant in Bay Ridge on Sunday, April 28 to help raise funds for the 152nd Memorial Day Parade. In the process, they were treated to an afternoon filled with great music, delicious food and good friends.

Ray Aalbue, who serves as chair of Brooklyn’s 152nd Memorial Day Parade Committee, thanked Cathy Santo Pietro for arranging to have the five bands perform and his committee for all their hard work.

“Memorial Day is not just a day for these folks. They live Memorial Day all year ‘round,” Aalbue told this paper. “They start planning for the next parade about two weeks after the last parade with one very important goal; to remember all those who paid such a terrible price in service to our country, and honor their families who must endure that loss. This community owes them a debt of gratitude for keeping the memory of so many alive.”

The benefit began with a crowd-pleasing performance by popular local group Whippoorwill, featuring Paul Cassone, Matt D’Emic and John Lepore performing pop, rock and folk songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s. They opened show at 2 p.m.

“The Memorial Day Parade benefit at Patsy’s was a testament to the spirit of community and cooperative action embodied in the psyche of Bay Ridgeites,” Cassone told this paper.

“Party affiliation and political ideals aside, a diverse cross section of the community came together with one goal – to show respect for veterans who have served the USA, and to support the parade in their honor.  I truly enjoyed participating in the event, as did my Whippoorwill band mates,” added Cassone.

Whippoorwill performed two original tunes, “Here’s To Good Friends by Cassone and “If I Never Call to Say I Love You by John Lepore as well as favorites such as “Wooly Bully,” “Mr. Postman,” “Centerfield” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”

Whippoorwill was followed by Irish favorites the Canny Brothers at 3 p.m. featuring Keith Fallon on lead guitar and vocal.

At 4 p.m., the top pop group Alive N Kickin featuring Pepe Cardona took the stage. The group has been around for decades and scored a top-10 hit with “Tighter, Tighter” in 1970.

The Rolling Stones tribute band Sha-Doobie performed at 5 p.m.; and pop-rock group Head and South closed out the event at 6 p.m.

This year’s parade grand marshal is former state Sen. Marty Golden, who attended the benefit. Golden supported the parade throughout his career in the City Council and the state legislature.

The parade committee has designated the American Legion as deputy marshal since it’s celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“It is going to be an exciting parade,” said Aalbue. “Our former senator and grand marshal is an army veteran and he will lead thousands of marchers, seven floats and fifteen bands down Third Ave. and over to Cannonball Park.”

“The lead band will be the 369th Experience,” continued Aalbue. “This group of musicians from colleges from all over the country is a recreation of the 369th Regimental Band of the famed Harlem Hellfighters. The band is part of a series of events endorsed by the World War I Centennial Commission and sponsored in part by The Coca Cola Foundation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I.”

Also attending the benefit were U.S. Rep. Max Rose and City Councilmember Justin Brannan, who presented Aalbue and the parade committee with a check for $32,500. Tori Kelly of state Sen. Andrew Gounardes’ office also attended.

“I am proud to support the oldest, continuously run Memorial Day parade in the country,” Brannan said. “We are so lucky to have it right here in Bay Ridge for 152 consecutive years! I am looking forward to seeing everybody at the parade!”

The Memorial Day Parade will march down Third Avenue on May 27.

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