Planning for the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Day Parade this May is well underway, as the community works to keep alive the tradition of celebrating and honoring its veterans.
Jay Vigorito, vice president of Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League, a local nonprofit sports organization in Whitestone, said they’re sponsoring the upcoming parade with a $10,000 donation.
“We’re hoping to get more donations. We are raising money at our basketball games, and we’re trying to raise the $10,000 in different ways,” said Vigorito. “We just wanted to take the burden off of the veteran’s this year of raising the money.”
In May 2018, Vigorito and Nick Gagliano, president of Dwarf Giraffe, announced their commitment to provide a $10,000 check, which will be presented at the Whitestone Veteran’s Memorial Association’s dinner on April 27.
A near-century old annual tradition in Whitestone, the Veterans Memorial Day Parade was in danger of vanishing years ago due to a funding shortage.
“I’m on the committee with the American Legion on raising funds and it’s very hard to do,” said Vigorito. “They do send letters out, they have the dinner dance … people just don’t donate like they used to.”
According to Vigorito, he’s unsure why there isn’t an outpouring of funds for the parade, which traditionally begins at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a memorial service and making its way through Whitestone Village. World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans march alongside a host of community groups and elected officials.
“It’s one of the oldest Memorial Day Parades in Queens. To me, it’s the only community thing left that we do here in Whitestone. It’s the one parade that gets everyone together,” said Vigorito. “Different civic groups, the little league, the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the Fire Department — everyone is there.”
However, Vigorito is not quite sure about the future of the parade, calling for community involvement.
“It depends on the people of the community. At this point, there’s not many veterans left,” said Vigorito. “What happens five years, 10 years down the road, I don’t know but it’s something the community has to keep doing. If the community doesn’t step up and keep the parade going, I don’t know how much longer it will last.”
Vigorito is challenging residents and other organizations in Whitestone to step up to the plate and help raise money for the parade.
To make a contribution, all donations can be sent directly to the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association at 10-20 Clintonville St., Whitestone, NY, 11357.