Middle Neck Road was filled with a sea of uniformed Merchant Marines marching in sync to the tune of “Over There,” a line of ambulances and Coast Guard vehicles drove slowly by crowds of people, groups representing religious and nonprofit organizations huddled together holding American flags and high-school students in rows of four performed compositions of Michael Jackson and John Philip Sousa.
All were participants in the 94th Annual Great Neck Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 28, which drew large crowds of residents singing, clapping, taking photographs and saluting those who served to protect their country.
Although a cloudy day, the parade was successful in that all attendees, from active and veteran members of the U.S. Military to 10-year-old Boy Scouts, united together through music and patriotic attire to pay homage to those who lost their lives in combat.
Great Neck Parade Committee Chair Louise M. McCann ensured that such togetherness could be achieved by organizing the attendance of all participating organizations and veterans, and by spreading the word about the need for an “enthusiastic crowd of onlookers” to support the efforts of the participants.
This year, Mort Zimmerman, a longtime Great Neck resident who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, was named grand marshal. Zimmerman achieved the rank of corporal and was placed in the European Civil Affairs Regiment during his service, prior to moving to Great Neck in 1964 where he remains active in the community.
Zimmerman, alongside other veterans, rode in the lead car at the head of the parade and was given a place of honor with exclusive seating on the Village Green for an honors ceremony.
The parade was incredibly special thanks to the guidance of Gilliar-Norwill Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #372; Charles A. Fowler, Jr., American Legion Post #160; United States Merchant Marine Academy; Alert Engine, Hook, Ladder and Hose Co. #1, Inc.; Vigilant Engine and Hook and Ladder Co., Inc.; and the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Kings Point.
Other participating groups included the Great Neck South High School Concert Band and Wind Ensemble, the Great Neck Chinese Association, Great Neck Cub Scouts, St. Paul AME Zion Church and numerous other volunteer groups and nonprofit organizations.
With such enthusiasm from the participants, the Memorial Day Parade drew hundreds of onlookers, a significant amount more than last year, many with chairs set up, showing off their red, white and blue clothes.
Attendees also included most of the Great Neck mayors, NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso, Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, Town of North Hempstead Councilwomen Lee Seeman and Anna Kaplan, Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education members, Great Neck Park District commissioners, members of local clergy and a contingency from the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
With such a large turnout, the parade achieved its main purpose: joining together the entire community from all races and ethnicities, all ages and backgrounds, to honor those who put their country before of their own safety.