Southeast Queens mother-son duo continue tradition of bringing families together with a community parade

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Photo courtesy of James Johnson

A mother-son duo is continuing a southeast Queens tradition that encourages community engagement among families and neighbors. 

The fourth annual “We Can Because We Know We Can Community Parade,” known to strengthen the community’s patronage, participation and engagement, will be held at the Campus Magnet Educational Complex’s (formerly Andrew Jackson High School) Homecoming at 207-01 116th Ave. in Cambria Heights on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. 

The highly anticipated event is expected to attract more than 1,000 attendees and aims to showcase and raise awareness of the local businesses, youth organizations, and District 29 locals schools to increase enrollment within the southeast Queens community. 

The parade was introduced to Andrew Jackson High School in the early ‘80s by the late Assemblywoman Barbara Clark when her children attended the school. It was then recreated in 2007 when Joann Linning decided to continue Clark’s legacy. 

Linning’s son, James Johnson — a Campus Magnet Alumni and community organizer — returned in 2016 to support his mother and the community to keep the tradition alive after receiving his bachelor’s degree. 

The grand marshals of the parade are Shiggy, an entertainer and Campus Magnet alumni of humanities and arts; Debra Hammond, the owner of In The Chair Salon and Barbershop; and Thomas Butch Clark, a retired New York City Transit employee, former football player and marching band member of Andrew Jackson. 

The community parade will be a collective partnership among political figures, Andrew Jackson and Campus Magnet alumni, local businesses and schools in southeast Queens. 

“It’s always important that we continue to show our youth and community how and why we can come together,” Hammond said. “It’s a celebration when one voice can be heard and that voice is for growth and change. I believe this is what the parade is all about and why I support it.”

“The Andrew Jackson High School parade brought my mother great joy and pride,” Clark said. “It has been a building block of this community and it’s great to see it hasn’t died.” 

The supporters and sponsors for the parade are Nu Omicron Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., James Johnson, Joann Linning, Agape Bethel Community Development Corporation and Resorts World Casino. 

The parade will start at 10:30 in front of the school and the route will take marchers down 116th Avenue to 226th Street. It will then proceed down Linden Boulevard across Francis Lewis to 205th Street to 116th Avenue. 

Following the parade, the attendees will continue the celebration by supporting the Campus Magnet Bulldogs Varsity Football team’s homecoming game. 

For more information on the parade, contact James Johnson via email at James.Johnson1991@gmail.com.

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