The Town of Bethlehem’s annual Memorial Day Parade held Monday, May 26, once again drew large numbers out into the sun to support local police, fire and servicemen.
As one of the few remaining parades in the area held on Memorial Day Monday, the Bethlehem event outshined shopping mall sales with Shriners, marching bands, servicemen and women, Little Leaguers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, muscle cars and divisions of fire and police vehicles. The parade took a little under an hour to pass along its winding route as a mass of onlookers applauded those marching.
You can sense the community spirit, said Glenmont resident Rod Crotty, who moved to the area with his wife, Joann, from Venice, Fla., and spent their seventh day living in the area by going to the parade. The Crottys said they were surprised by the amount of participation and the turnout, saying that it was huge compared to what goes on in Florida.
The parade’s 65 groups, ranging from Little League teams to muscle car enthusiasts and karate dojos, filled the streets throwing candy and handing out flags. With very few stops, the parade moved along at a steady pace.
Marty DeLaney, president of the Chamber of Commerce, points to the tight knit community and volunteer participation in Bethlehem as a major part of the repeated success of the parade every year. Citing the Bethlehem High School band as a group that is `so heartwarming it gives me chills,` because of band members’ dedication to the event. DeLaney also points out that unlike other communities, Bethlehem still has a traditional main street with people viewing the Four Corners as the historical business section of Bethlehem.
Kelly Nisiewicz, owner of the Closet Shop in Delmar, has lived in the area for 10 years and has a son who marches with the Tri-Valley Little League. Nisiewicz said she liked the idea that the parade is family friendly and that it supports local police, fire fighters, and servicemen and women.
A number of parents were in the crowd to support their children and their activities. The Bethlehem High School band marched alongside Little Leaguers and hockey club members as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts proudly showed off their troops’ symbols. Fire companies, police officers and military personnel walked in unison past onlookers who cheered them for their service.
Some onlookers said the community interaction in the parade is what keeps people coming back year after year to support their neighbors and friends.
Barb Turi, whose son, Mike, marched with the Boy Scouts and daughter, Gabi, marched with the Bethlehem Tomboys was there to watch as both of them took part in the town’s annual parade. `The purpose [to keep the parade on Monday] is what it’s meant to be for, not just for the kids to march,` said Turi.
DeLaney said she believes the turnout at the event shows that the town has not forgotten what Memorial Day is about.
`[Memorial Day] is to remember, to remember everyone who has died in the past in service of our country,` DeLaney said.