By Mark Hallum
The annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade will start its march down Northern Boulevard from Great Neck Road to 245th Street Monday. Among the marshals and honorees are decorated war veterans, public servants and civic leaders alike.
One of the largest if not the largest Memorial Day Parade in the country, the event will begin at 2 p.m., with opening and closing ceremonies to take place in the Divine Wisdom/St. Anastasia school yard, located at 45-11 245th St. in Douglaston.
Retired Lt. General Richard Mills, USMC, will act as grand marshal in the parade. As a native of Huntington, L.I., he has served in as far flung places as Italy, Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia and Iraq. He also received an education at the Royal College of Defense Studies in London. He retired on Oct. 1, 2015.
Man of the Year is Robert Sweeney, deputy commissioner for FDNY. He was appointed to the Fire Department in 1979 after graduating from the academy, and served as a young firefighter in Harlem. He was later promoted to lieutenant at a position in Brooklyn, and has moved up the ladder ever since. In 2000, he became the deputy chief of Division 13 in South Queens where he was working on 9/11. Sweeney would later become Queens borough commander. He has lived in Douglaston since 1998 with his wife Mari and three children.
Woman of the Year is Borough President Melinda Katz. After serving in the state Assembly from 1994 to 1999 and City Council between 2002 and 2009, Katz has well over 20 years in service as a legislator. As a native of Forest Hills, she received her degree from St. John’s University School of Law. Katz was elected borough president in 2013.
The Community Service Award will go to Mohsen Zandieh, owner of a Arash Real Estate in Little Neck. As a prominent member of Long Island Board of Realtors, he has been recognized for service to his community from the state Senate and the Assembly as well as the City Council.
Jay Cutler is a World War II veteran who served on Omaha Beach. Born in Crown Heights and currently living in Valley Stream, he will be a parade marshal in this year’s march.
In 1942, Cutler joined the Signal Corps, and in 1944 was part of the assault on Normandy known as D-Day. He would later advance with American forces into Paris as it was freed from German occupation. He also went into the Buchenwald concentration camp after it was liberated. Altogether, Cutler participated in five campaigns and was awarded for each, including a Bronze Star and the Medal for the Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor by the government of France.
Remaining parade marshals will be Michael Howley, Korean War veteran; Samuel Mantilla, Vietnam veteran and Jr. vice commander of the Disabled American Veterans Department of New York; and Dan McSweeney United War Veterans Council President.
Following is a selected list of where and when this year’s Memorial Day festivities are taking place in Queens:
Noon—Metropolitan and Ascan Avenue
2 p.m.—College Point Point Blvd. and Neil Park
1 p.m.—Grand Avenue and 72nd Street
9 a.m.—Francis Lewis and Merrick
10:45 a.m.—803 Cyprus Avenue, WWI Monument
11 a.m.—243rd Street and Mayda Road
12:30 a.m.—149-50 15th Road
2 p.m.—Jayson Ave. and 245th Street (check)
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall