Like other major events, the 2021 Brooklyn American Independence Parade was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The parade committee was unable to hold in-person monthly planning sessions and the city gave early indications that it would not provide a permit.
This particular parade, with the exceptions of 2020 and 2021, had been an annual event for more than 114 years and had the reputation of being the oldest continuous Independence Day parade in New York City. For the past few years, the parade has been held in Downtown Brooklyn, along Court Street. In earlier years, the vintage patriotic marches took place in Park Slope, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
The parade, which heralds the birth of our nation and also salutes the Armed Forces and members of the NYPD and FDNY, is hosted by the Long Island Assembly of the Knights of Columbus. It features marching units from Brooklyn and Queens. As part of the parade ceremonies, three awards are bestowed, including the prestigious Pro Patria Award.
In lieu of the parade, a patriotic celebration was held on the Sheepshead Bay pier at the Baron DeKalb K of C Council. Robert Murphy received the Grand Marshal award; Charles Shelly received the Community Service award; and, in absentia, Rev. Guy Sbordone, the new pastor of Our Lady of Grace parish in Gravesend, received the Pro Patria award. Previous recipients of the award are Mike Long, Chris Mega, Marty Golden, Monsignors Jamie Gigantiello and David Cassato, Leo Zeferetti, Bishop Thomas Daily, Guy Molinari, Thomas Cuite and NYPD Det. Steven McDonald (posthumously).