Locals, along with their friends and families, lined the streets for several blocks all along the parade route waving miniature flags of varying sizes and holding messages to soldiers overseas.
Meryl Citron, who was passing out awareness flyers for the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said she was drawn to the parade because her son is a member of the corps. Though he wasn’t marching in this year’s parade, she wanted to show her support for his colleagues, as well as for local veterans.
“My son has been a part of the Ambulance Corps for the past 19 years, and that’s the first thing that brought me here. However, it’s Memorial Day. You go to the beach, you go to a BBQ, but when you come out here, it’s just a little bit of time to honor the troops,” Citron said. “I actually live out on Long Island now, but I was staying in Queens and coming to the parade is something I like to do.”
Honorees at this year’s parade were Our Lady of Mercy Pastor Monsignor John McGuirl, Community Board 6 Chairperson Joe Hennessey, and Terrance Holliday, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office on Veteran’s Affairs.
Tom Long, chairman of American Legion Post #1424 and member of the local Kiwanis Club, has been marching in the Forest Hills parade for the past 25 years. Long, a Marine veteran, is partly responsible for the parade’s continued existence, as he orchestrated a collaboration with the Kiwanis Club to secure funding for the parade after it was almost cancelled three years ago.
“We were on the verge of canceling it because of the lack of funding,” he recalled. “The Kiwanis found out about it, so we had a couple of meetings and they offered to help, mainly in the fundraising campaign.”
Citron said she couldn’t imagine what it would be like if the Forest Hills parade were to be cancelled, and hopes it never happens.
“I think it’s become a bit of a tradition, and I think it’s important to all Americans to have something like this to commemorate Memorial Day,” Citron said.