Paying tribute to past and present veterans

Students seek to make Hewlett-Woodmere's Memorial Day parade a success


In an effort to bring two communities together and recognize military service veterans, the Youth Leadership Forum at Hewlett High School met on April 12 to talk about ways to improve this year’s Memorial Day parade, which hasn’t be held for the past three years.

Youth Leadership Forum is a group of 85 students at Hewlett High School who meet four to five times a year to discuss various projects such as last October’s Arts Below Sunrise festival and the upcoming Memorial Day parade, which will be held on May 27.

Co-president Sydney Rosenblum, a senior, said the parade is a great opportunity for the community to show support for the military. “We want to recognize veterans and show our appreciation for them,” she said.

Hewlett-Woodmere District Director of Music Kevin Bayen is helping to organize the parade, as he was involved in coordinating past parades. “The parade used to be on for a few years, off for a few years and we wanted to reinstate it and make it a community event,” he said. “We want to pay tribute to past and present veterans and make them the focal point.”

According to Bayen, the parade was a large event in the 1980s but became harder to host in the community. “It is a tough weekend because many students start their summer jobs,” he said. “But we want to make it a powerful event in a short amount of time so students can still get to their jobs and families can still enjoy their barbecues.”

Sophomore Talei Tarakinikini created the Memorial Day parade poster in an effort to attract more spectators for the event. “I wanted the poster to be patriotic and include red, white and blue,” she said. “I also wanted to draw animations that would grab viewers.”

She added that the Memorial Day parade is an important event for the community. “Everyone comes together for a good cause,” Tarakinikini said. “Veterans risk their lives and don’t ask for appreciation in return. It’s important because they give so much for the simple pleasures and freedoms we enjoy everyday.”

David Rifkind, the Youth Leadership Forum advisor at Hewlett High School, said the students try to reach out to organizations such as the Five Towns Community Chest and the Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association to grow a stronger sense of community. “We want the kids to be involved in meaningful events and the ideas for them come from the students,” he said. “We try and promote leadership so they’re able to take control, monitor their time and have success.”

Senior Jaime Krasner hopes the parade is not only successful but continues for years to come. “I hope people realize the significance and that it grows each year,” she said. “I want it to become something the community does each year.”

Bayen said veterans, local dignitaries, the school band, color guard, cheerleaders, various community groups, school clubs, organizations and sports teams, and local fire departments would be involved in the parade. “I want something that Hewlett-Woodmere can be proud of,” he said. “If we’re going to do this, we should try and do it right.”

Veterans who would like to be involved in the Memorial Day parade are asked to contact Kevin Bayen at (516) 792-4808.