Island Park honors heroes at Memorial Day parade


The village of Island Park is bustling with anticipation of its annual Memorial Day Parade, a tradition that honors the men and women who have served in the country’s armed forces.

The event will take place on Saturday on Waterford Road, adjacent to Masone Beach. The lineup begins at 9:30 a.m., and the parade will step off promptly at 10. Afterward there will be a ceremony at the Sept. 11 Memorial Monument at the corner of Long Beach and Waterford roads, followed by a barbecue at the gazebo on Masone Beach, hosted by the Island Park Fire Department and American Legion Post 1029.

All local organizations, including Boy and Girl Scout troops, sports teams, and schools were encouraged to take part in the parade.

This year, the event holds special significance, because it will honor veterans past and present, but will also recognize volunteer firefighters who have served Island Park and have been lost over the years. Saturday promises to be a day of remembrance, camaraderie and community spirit.

Vietnam veteran and lifelong Island Park resident Jack Scully will lead the parade, having been named its grand marshal by his longtime friend, Mayor Michael McGinty. The two have known each other since they were kids, and worked as lifeguards for the village.

“Growing up, he was somebody I looked up to,” McGinty said of Scully. “I can’t say enough about him — I’ll tear up. He was good to me when I was a kid. For me that’s meaningful. Here I am, 16, my first my first lifeguard job, and he treated me like a man. I think the world of him, and I think he’s wonderful. A true friend, a true American and a veteran hero.”

Scully, now 74, was drafted into the Army and served from 1969 to 1971, spending 10 months in Germany and seven months in Vietnam. After returning from service, he worked for AT&T and later the Long Island Rail Road before eventually joining the Long Beach water purification plant, from which he retired in 2017. Jack and his wife, Patricia, have four children and six grandchildren, and will celebrate their 44th anniversary on May 29.

Scully’s positive outlook on life is evident, as he recalls his military service with fondness, emphasizing the bonds he formed with his fellow soldiers and the unique experience of serving in different countries.

“I think the best memories I have are the connections you get when you’re in the service, and the bonds you make,” he said. “You live with these people and it’s the connections that just are amazing, and you befriend people who you never realized you would. It taught me a lot about people, and the diversity of people, and I have taken it with me all my life. What I’ve gathered from it all is we’re all in the same boat. Even people from other countries. It was during the war, so there were some problems, but I have fond memories from both countries.”

For McGinty, Memorial Day holds deep personal significance, and he expressed gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy today.

“For me, Memorial Day is a personal day,” he said. “Now I go back to those men who served in World War II, their wives and girlfriends who were left behind, who meant so much to the war effort. Through the Korean action and the Vietnam action. Our men and women gave so much. We’re free, able to express our views and enjoy the freedom and liberty that comes with being an American. It’s the best country in the world.”

The parade is not only a time for reflection, but also a celebration of community spirit. Residents are encouraged to participate by decorating their bicycles and joining the procession, with prizes offered by the American Legion for the best-decorated bikes.

“I’m very honored to take part in it, and it means a lot to me,” Scully said of being named grand marshal. “We can’t forget the ultimate sacrifices that people have made for us, and that’s what Memorial Day is all about. The ultimate sacrifices they all make.”