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Community rallies to rescue 2014 Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade

By Kelsey Durham

Dozens of northeast Queens residents joined the United War Veterans Council at the Community Church of Little Neck Wednesday evening to pledge their determination to save the Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade as the future of the annual event hangs in jeopardy.

About 50 concerned citizens met with the UWVC, the Manhattan-based veterans organization that organizes the city’s annual Veterans Day parade, to discuss strategies for planning this year’s Memorial Day event as the community starts from scratch with no leader to guide them. The 87-year-old parade, which has been known to be the largest in the United States, was previously in the hands of the Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Organization, a legal entity that dissolved last year due to lack of support from area residents, according to the parade’s web site.

With no replacement committee in place to organize this year’s event, residents began to worry that the 2014 parade was at risk of not happening. But the UWVC, which has donated a portion of the funds used to produce the Memorial Day parade in the past, said it was willing to lend a helping hand this year and be the guiding force in order to get the ball rolling.

“We were hearing there was a good likelihood this year that there wouldn’t be a parade,” said Vince McGowan, founding president of the UWVC. “How can that be? This is a standard. It’s Americana.”

At the community’s request, McGowan and his organization agreed to help start the planning process and came up with an organizational chart that could be used as a model. He advised the crowd to form committees and begin fund-raising in order to prepare for the estimated $30,000 cost of putting on the parade.

Several residents who attended the meeting at 46-16 Little Neck Parkway volunteered to help with the planning of this year’s parade and agreed that the community did not want to see the beloved tradition come to an end. Although only 2 1/2 months remain until the holiday, McGowan said the UWVC would put its best foot forward in helping to make sure the parade goes on as expected as long as the community was fully committed to seeing it through.

“There is certainly no shortage of patriotism or energy to get it done — we just need to get started,” he said. “Whatever happened in the past is in the past, and we’re going forward now.”

McGowan said anyone with questions about the status of this year’s Little Neck Douglaston parade can contact the UWVC’s help line at 718-428-5851.

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

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