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Oldest Memorial Day parade, Brooklyn fixture since 1867, will be canceled this year by a war: fighting coronavirus

April 21, 2020 Theodore General
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The 153rd Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade and post-parade memorial service in John Paul Jones Park, scheduled to be held on May 25, have been canceled by Mayor Bill de Blasio due to the coronavirus plaguing New York. This parade has been held continually since 1867 and was founded when Brooklyn was an independent city and the third largest in the nation. It also holds the distinction of being the longest running  big-city Memorial Day parade in the country.

When it began, the march was held along Eastern Parkway, then Prospect Park West, and, for the past 35 years, in Bay Ridge. The parade route, which usually runs along Third Avenue from 78th Street to Marine Avenue, then up to Fourth Avenue and over to John Paul Jones Park at 101st Street, is sponsored by the United Military Veterans of Kings County.

The Hope for the Warriors logo. Photo courtesy of Hope for the Warriors

Last year, former State Sen. Marty Golden was the grand marshal. The deputy grand marshals were members of the American Legion, commemorating that organization’s 100th anniversary. The reviewing officer was Col. Andrew Zieseniss, commander, U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton. At the park ceremonies, there is a raising of the flag, along with wreath-layings, Taps played by bandsmen from Fort Hamilton H.S., and a 21-gun salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery.

For 2020, the plan was to have Robin Kelleher, president and CEO of Hope for the Warriors as grand marshal. Deputy grand marshals were to be World War II veterans, Korean War veterans, and New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan.

The parade officials include Chairman Emeritus Prisco De Angelis; Chairman and Executive Director Ray Aalbue; President Connie Ranocchia; Vice President Cary Spickler; Secretary Anthony Giovinco; Treasurer Barry Berger; Corresponding Secretary Irene Berger; Line of March Coordinator Peter De Angelis Jr, and Public Relations Director Ted General.

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May 8 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E day.

Veterans march in a Memorial Day parade in the 1930s. Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection


At the 1931 parade, Ronald Lent, 9, shakes hands with 93-year-old Civil War veteran Thomas Barker. Also pictured are Civil War vets Henry Stamm (left) and John G. Soden.


An aerial view of the parade along Eastern Parkway, 1951.


Gregory McNeff, 4, and Denise Murphy, 5, pay their respects to the Stars and Stripes as the procession swings along Eastern Parkway, 1952.

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