Hosted by the United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth, the parade honored grand marshals Frank Caruso and Kathleen Nealon.
Nealon, a lifelong Maspeth resident, has volunteered at Maspeth Town Hall, St. Adalbert’s Parish, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, and numerous other causes.
She’s also known for singing the national anthem and “God Bless America” during Maspeth Federal Savings’ annual September 11th ceremony.
Caruso, a Williamsburg native, is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, spending three years stateside and another year at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam.
He is a recipient of several medals and awards, and serves on the Vietnam Veterans of America, United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations, and the Kowalinski Post #4.
“It is certainly an honor and a privilege to be selected to be a grand marshal,” Caruso said. “It’s very significant that a veteran should be a grand marshal, in addition to a civilian.”
He praised the organization that put together the annual celebration, and noted that its members spend a lot of time away from their families to honor veterans and the community.
The theme of this year’s parade was “Maspeth Stands and Salutes Old Glory.” The parade also celebrated the American flag back in 2006.
After an opening ceremony at Walter Garlinge Memorial Park, the parade marched down Grand Avenue, ultimately culminating at Maspeth Memorial Square. Despite the rain holding up at the start, the clouds opened up toward the end.
Many paraders wore yellow ponchos to shield themselves from the rain.
Vincent Tomeo, who marched in the parade, wore ragged cloth on his feet to honor soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War without shoes and died.
“Most people don’t realize that Valley Forge was a difficult battle,” he said. “They persevered and we won. I’m very proud to be an American, I want to honor those who gave their all.”
Though he’s from Flushing, Tomeo said Maspeth is where his “heart is” because of the sense of community in the neighborhood.
“In Maspeth, they come out for all sorts of community events, the whole community is involved,” he said. “It’s just a feeling of community and national pride.”