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Mission accomplished! Hundreds pitch in to save Memorial Day Parade

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The parade is saved!

Big-hearted Brooklynites have answered the may day of the organizers of the nation’s oldest Memorial Day parade — and, thanks to a rush of donations, have ensured that the annual red, white, and blue march down Third Avenue in Bay Ridge will live to see another year.

The calvary has arrived to the Bay Ridge Memorial Day Parade, the 144-year-old commemoration of soldiers who died in military service that received an outpouring of support — and much-needed funds — after running up a white flag earlier this month claiming that the 2012 parade was in jeopardy.

“People have been making anywhere from $5 to $1,000 in donations,” said Ray Aalbue, vice chairman of the United War Veterans of Kings County Memorial Day Parade Committee. “Everywhere I go, people are showing their support for veterans.”

Parade organizers put out their S.O.S. after the state pulled back its $7,000 allocation that the parade committee had received for the last five years. The group had already collected $10,000 through private donations, but that wasn’t enough to hire enough marching bands and transport servicemen and women from different Fleet Week activities to the parade, organizers said.

News of the committee’s financial hole propelled a consortium of elected officials to get together and donate a combined $2,500.

Borough President Markowitz donated an additional $2,000 — but that still left the committee $7,500 short of its goal, organizers said.

Enter veteran-loving Bay Ridgeites.

With so many people chipping in, the parade committee now has an estimated $17,000 — double the amount they had two weeks earlier — and the fund raisers hadn’t taken place yet. But who needs a fund-raiser?

“Supporting the Bay Ridge Memorial Day Parade is an obvious choice,” Justin Brannan, president of the Bay Ridge Democrats, explained. “America’s veterans were there for us and now we need to be there for them.”

Organizers said money collected from future fund-raisers will go to next year’s parade — which is no longer in jeopardy.

“I’m confident that next year’s parade will happen,” said Aalbue. “We’re going to be pro-active over the course of the year and build the parade up.”

Aalbue admitted that, even with the cash influx, there will be fewer marching bands in the parade this year, but that’s not because of funding — scheduling conflicts have prevented a few bands from performing.

Fund raiser for Bay Ridge Memorial Day Parade at Longbow Pub and Pantry [7316 Third Ave. between 73rd and 74th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 238-7468], April 21 at 7 pm. $20 donation at door. For info, visit www.longbownyc.com; Benefit concert at Salty Dog [7509 Third Ave. between 75th and 76th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 238-0030], May 1 at 2 pm. For info, visit www.saltydogbar.com; donations can also be sent to the United War Veterans Memorial Day Parade, PO Box 09-0233, Brooklyn, NY 11209. For info, visit www.brooklynmemorialdayparade.com or call (917) 873-1508.

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018
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