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The ’muffin man: Ridge vet to lead the Ragamuffin Parade

For the record books: Teddy Roosevelt, the Statue of Liberty, and a sailor spread Ragamuffin cheer at last year’s parade.
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He’s a parade veteran!

A lifelong Bay Ridge resident who spent much of his career working with the U.S. military will lead hundreds of tiny ghouls, ghosts, and goblins through the streets on Oct. 14 in his role as the Ragamuffin Parade’s “Person of the Year.” Ray Aalbue said he feels thankful to receive the parade’s 51st annual award, and feels lucky to join a club of past honorees.

“I’m humbled by it and I’m looking forward to it,” said Aalbue. “There are so many other people who have gone before me that I respect and work with.”

Aalbue was born and raised in Bay Ridge, studying at St. Ephrem School and St. Augustine High School before enlisting in the Air Force in 1967. After a 12-year stint working at West Point, he returned to Brooklyn in 1991 to serve in public affairs for various military and veterans groups, including Fort Hamilton Army Base. He retired in 2010, but remains Chairman of the Kings County Memorial Day Parade — one of the oldest in the country — and executive director of the United Military Veterans of Kings County, through which he and other members work with children in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Fort Hamilton High School.

Aalbue, who said he has been attending the parade for many years, said he is particularly looking forward to marching in the parade with his wife Marianne, his son and daughter-in-law, Tommy and Jennifer, and his five granddaughters, who range in age from 1 to 7 years old.

“I’m most looking forward to marching with the girls and seeing all the kids’ costumes,” he said.

The 19-member Parade committee receives nominations for the “Person of the Year” award, typically looking for community service and dedication to the needs of children, said the committee president.

“The parade is all about the kids,” said Arlene Keating. “And the honors are about what the Person of the Year and the Grand Marshal have contributed to the community in a way that benefits both the community and the people that live in it.”

This year’s Grand Marshal is Monsignor Kevin Noone of Our Lady of Angels Parish, the same parish that founded the parade in 1966.

The march is a Bay Ridge favorite, with families coming out in droves and kids ruling the streets in their scariest — and cutest — costumes. All registered children who march the route in costume will receive a prize. Parents can register their costumed kids from 11 am–12:15 pm that morning at the Holy Angels Catholic Academy school yard on 74th Street between Third and Fourth avenues.

Ragamuffin Parade (Third Avenue from 76th to 92nd streets in Bay Ridge, www.ragamuffinparadebayridge.org). Oct. 14 at 1 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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