By Katy GAgnon
When compared to other borough parades, the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade may be small, but its festive spirit rivals any of the larger processions.
Hundreds of spectators lined Metropolitan Avenue Sunday to watch the military men and women, bands, veterans and politicians march in the parade. The parade kicked off at noon from the intersection of Ascan and Metropolitan avenues and ended in Remsen Park.
Young children waved small American flags, watching the parade from their parent's laps. Shop owners peered out from storefronts while a group of elderly women cheered from the shade of a bus stop.
Two brothers, James and William Genovese from Forest Hills, watched from the seat of their Radio Flyer wagon.
“I think it's important to come out and support the troops,” said the boys' mother, Carol Genovese.
A group of NYPD officers and Marines led the parade, stepping to the beat of an Army marching band. Next, a float emblazoned with the words “Lest We Forget” carried veterans and members from the American Legion Post 1424, which organized the parade.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblywoman Audry Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) marched in the procession.
Children from local groups, such as the Forest Hills Little League and City Twirlers, also marched.
The best part of the parade for a pair of 12-year-old Forest Hills boys was watching a group of Army men twirl their rifles. It was something neither of them had seen before.
Another crowd pleaser was the Irish pipe band from the city Correction Department.
Many parade-goers who attend the event every year noted that this year's procession was shorter than usual.
Nearly 100 additional Marines and sailors were supposed to march in the parade, but the bus that was supposed to pick up the servicemen in Manhattan and take them to Forest Hills never showed, said Louis Neir, one of the parade's organizers.
The mix-up with the bus company also caused a handful of school marching bands to miss the event, he said.
The Army helicopters that fly over the procession were absent this year, as well. That was because the helicopters, which come from the 106th Air National Guard in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., were leaving for Iraq this week, Neir said.
He said he hoped the parade would be back to full form next year.
The Genovese family does not live far from Metropolitan Avenue and watches the parade every year. When Carol Genovese came to the parade last year, her older brother Michael was serving in Iraq. With her brother overseas, it was difficult watching the parade that day, she said.
A year later, her brother has safely returned home and Genovese said she had a new perspective on the holiday.
“It's a very important day. It should be remembered,” she said.
Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.