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Parade committee names chairmen to lead plans

By Kelsey Durham

Two leaders have been named to chair the new committees that have taken over the organization of the 2014 Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade.

Neighborhood volunteers Douglas Montgomery and Charlie McBride were appointed to oversee the planning of the 87th annual event and will work closely with the United War Veterans Council, the nonprofit that is helping to put together this year’s parade after the previous leaders stepped down last year.

With new chairmen in place, the volunteers met at the Community Church of Little Neck March 27 to continue organizing the details of the parade.

Geraldine Spinella, a former parade board member who is leading the new Finance Committee, said the volunteers have started looking at how much money is needed for this year’s parade and how it can be raised. She said there are two fund-raisers currently being planned on April 16 and May 4 to bring in money.

“We think we need about $30,000 for this parade,” she said. “We have a few thousand in donations already and I think we’ll see more in the coming weeks.”

With the 70th anniversary of D-Day coming up this June, the committee chose to focus this year’s parade on a World War II theme and the community has already named three veterans who will be honored during the parade as grand marshals.

The chairmen said they are still looking for a woman who served in the war and for a veteran who was stationed in the Pacific to add to this year’s honorees.

Montgomery said one of the major things the committees have been working on so far is planning a closing ceremony this year that would feature food and drinks at the end of the parade route.

“We really want to have something to give back to all the military who give their day for us to be in the parade,” he said.

The volunteers have established a new website, lndmemorialday.org, where the community can get information about the May 26 ceremony, and Montgomery said he was also able to regain the old phone number that once led to the parade information hot line but was temporarily disconnected when last year’s leaders walked away.

For information about the parade, residents can call 718-279-3200.

Vince McGowan, founding president of the UWVC, said he thinks the parade has picked up a considerable amount of support in the last few weeks, despite initial rumors that it would not be taking place, and he thanked the community for coming together to help save the tradition.

“We are simply the stewards here,” he said. “The neighborhood owns this and we just feel compelled to help, but the community has obviously spoken and the future is that we’re going to have a parade.”

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

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