By Sarina Trangle
Several people watching Queens’ Veterans Day Parade Sunday said they happened upon the procession and then slipped into the crowds on Metropolitan Avenue.
And those who have staked out Middle Village sidewalk space for years said the parade must push past this lack of awareness as it enters its fifth year as a boroughwide procession.
“I’d like to see more people because look what they go through, what they do for their country. You see it in the news every day,” said Melinda Marziliano, while watching the marchers with her mother from the doorway of a building across from Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery, as they have for decades.
As grand marshals Russel Feddern and Paul Feddern led the parade from Metropolitan Avenue and 80th Street to Christ the King High School, passers-by and newcomers like the Maduro family could not resist joining the revelers.
Frans Maduro said they were planing on dropping off his daughter, who was marching with a Maspeth High School group, but the onlookers stuck miniature flags in his young daughter’s hands and soon had them posing for photos.
Similarly, Oksana Anderson, who lives nearby, said she had intended to attend, forgot and ultimately stumbled upon it.
“I think it’s getting bigger, not smaller. It’s just not publicized enough,” she said.
Staff from Rosa’s Pizza marched to the drum beat of a passing school ensemble and a barber in his smock stepped out of a Metropolitan Avenue shop to capture the procession on his cell phone.
The parade featured dozens of groups hailing from Sunnyside to West Hamilton Beach, with VFW posts, Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 32 and Prisoners of War-Missing in Action organizations represented. Youth groups were interspersed, including baton ensembles, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and plenty of bands. The Sunnyside Drum Corps garnered extra applause, as its smaller members pushed their instruments on top of grocery carts.
Marchers led the crowd into Christ the King’s auditorium, where U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), his predecessor Serphin Maltese and city Comptroller Scott Stringer lauded the brothers who served as grand marshals — one a former Marine and Department of Sanitation retiree, and the other a Vietnam veteran and ex-NYPD detective.
“This area has been a neighborhood, a community of immigrants from its inception, and all those people come here because of the better life that we are accustomed to. And that life is because of all the veterans that fought and served to protect us and the constitution of our country,” Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri said.
Ramona Emily Toro, a member of the Gold Star Mothers group that has lost children in the line of duty, gave the headlining speech about her son, Pvt. Isaac Cortes, a Bronx native who died in Iraq in 2007.
“I did pay the ultimate sacrifice and so did my son, but that’s not where I leave it. I continue to keep the memory alive,” she said. “It’s very important that we teach our children the cost of freedom.”
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4546.