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Five Towns gearing up for Memorial Day parades

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Three parades will take place in the Five Towns in honor of Memorial Day. The festivities kick off on Sunday, May 26 at 10 a.m., with the Cedarhurst-Lawrence Community Memorial Day Parade begins at the intersection of Rockaway Turnpike and Central Avenue in Lawrence and ends at Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park.

Paris Popack, president of the Lawrence Association, Cedarhurst and Lawrence, Mayors Ben Weinstock and Alex Edelman respectively, the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department, Syd Mandelbaum, commander of American Legion Post 339, and Cedarhurst Deputy Village Clerk JoMarie Capone, joined forces to organize the parade.

Popack explained the reason for extending the parade from its usual beginning at Washington Ave and Central avenues to Rockaway Turnpike. “It was important for the LCFD to be able to march in both of the communities that they serve,” she said. Last year, the route started at the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Firehouse at Central Avenue and Washington Avenue and went down to Cedarhurst Avenue.”

Another change, to Sunday from Monday, was about logistics, Popack said. “The police department said that holding it on Sunday would be easier for them logistically since they’re already overextended on the holiday weekend,” she said. “It's possible for us to go back to Monday, but we’ll see how it goes this year.”

Memorial Day is defined as a day dedicated to men and women who died while in military service. Originally known as Decoration Day to honor the Civil War dead, it became Memorial Day in 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that established the holiday on the last Monday in May. In effect since 1971, the law also created a three-day weekend for federal employees, and in turn many others nationwide.

The Inwood parade is also on May 26, starting at noon in the parking lot of the Inwood Long Island Rail Road station. It ends at the intersection of Doughty Boulevard and Mott Avenue. Inwood-based Leonardo da Vinci Lodge 2385 Sons of Italy member and former Inwood resident James Esopa is the grand marshal.

John J. Oliveri Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1582 ex-commander Frank Santora said that the post, the Inwood Fire Department and the Sons of Italy alternate in choosing the grand marshal. Esopa said he appreciates being picked. “I found out a couple of weeks ago and I was very honored to be chosen,” he said. “I’m a big supporter of our armed forces and I’m looking forward to this parade.”

The Hewlett-Woodmere parade is on Monday, May 27, starting at 9 a.m. at Irving place and Broadway in Woodmere and finishes at Hewlett High School. Woodmere resident and Fourth Precinct South Auxiliary Inspector Danny Gluck is the grand marshal.

“Danny has done great work for the community for a number of years and has done great things for HWBA in the past,” said Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association President David Friedman on Gluck’s selection. Friedman added that the police will be distributing Frisbees with anti-drug messages to children at the parade.

Gluck touched on his intitial reaction to receiving the honor. "My initial reaction was one of great surprise as I know the honor typically goes to a high ranking official or dignitary," Gluck said.  "As I am not (as of yet) one of these, I do however consider myself a liaison who serves and protects my community.

“It’s important for people to have awareness of what Memorial Day stands for and how it differs from Veteran’s Day,” she said. “It’s also important for us to all stand together as Americans for our country during Memorial Day weekend.” Veterans Day on Nov. 11 was the day World War I ended in 1918 and honors everyone who served in the military.