Boy Scouts help clean up Cross Bay Boulevard

When the Howard Beach Civic Forum asked Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack 139 to help prepare Cross Bay Boulevard for the much-anticipated Columbus Day Parade, slated for Saturday, October 13, Assistant Scout Master Tom Mercatante didn’t think twice.
“We’re members of the community, and we want to help in whatever way possible,” said Mercatante.
So, on Saturday, September 29, scouts and parents met at Ace Hardware, at 158-18 Cross Bay Boulevard, and went to work. Within two hours, the group had cleaned Cross Bay from 157th Avenue to 160th Avenue, removing litter and excess weeds sprouting up beside the many trees that line the roadway.
The troop’s decision to help out, however, went deeper than mere altruism. Troop 139 has a direct stake in making Cross Bay Boulevard look nice - this year they will be marching in Howard Beach’s second annual Columbus Day Parade.
“They’re excited,” said Andrea Mercatante, wife of Tom. The couple’s three kids — Thomas, 12, and twins Andrew and Anthony, 11 — are members of the troop.
“We went to the parade last year, and it was huge,” Mercatante continued. “They’re looking forward to seeing bands and music and friends along the boulevard. They get a kick out of it.”
“Last year’s [parade] was a huge success,” said Frank Gulluscio, who is a member of the committee organizing the parade. “So many thousands of people came out. You couldn’t move on Cross Bay.”
Gulluscio said he believes this year’s parade, featuring floats and live bands, will top the excitement last year’s generated.
“I know I’ll be attending and marching,” said Councilmember Joe Addabbo. “It’ll be a thrill - not just for Italians, but for everyone involved.”
Still another reason for Troop 139’s enthusiasm to clean Cross Bay was their desire to give back to a group who provided them with so much.
“The Civic Forum asked us to clean up the boulevard, and they just recently had given us a great donation toward our Washington trip,” said Tom Mercatante. “So we certainly wanted to thank them.”
The scouts will be leaving for Washington, D.C. on Saturday, October 6 for an educational weekend during which scouts will learn about U.S. government.
“The Civic Forum donated, and that helped, and we also got a last-minute anonymous donation to pay the rest,” said Mercatante.
With the funding secured, scouts can travel free, while parents — most of whom are also attending — will pay their own way.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet for the kids that we’re leaving,” said Andrea Mercatante. “The parents are the ones getting excited.”
Nina DeBlasio, Vice President of the Civic Forum, said the group was happy to help the troop out.
“Our funding isn’t huge, but they’re great kids, and for a group that does so much to help our community, we’re happy to give,” she said.