Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Morning in Belle Harbor: Memorial Day Parade at St. Francis de Sales Church on Rockaway Beach Boulevard

We were on Rockaway Beach Boulevard down the street from St. Francis de Sales this morning for the 2010 Memorial Day Parade.

It was a surprisingly hot day even just a block from the beach in Belle Harbor. Here's the start of the parade, which is, we think, run by the Daniel M. O'Connell Post 272 of the American Legion.

The Knights of Columbus Rockaway Council 2672 also had a lot of members there, and lots of people and flags lined the boulevard too.

Generally big parades freak us out, but Rockaway parades always seemed intimate enough to enjoy.

We think more city firefighters live in Rockaway than anywhere else. They are, after all, New York's Smartest.

The oldest vets rode in vintage cars.

Others just marched.

Then there were the drums

and woodwinds

and cheerleaders.

There were marchers from First Congregational Church,

and students from St. Francis de Sales School

and Scholars' Academy Seawolves, along with other Rockaway groups we didn't get decent pics of.

This was the tail end of the parade as it made its way down Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Behind us was the St. Francis de Sales Prayer Garden, also a memorial - to those members of the parish who died on September 11 and November 12 of 2001.

Thirty years and three wars ago we lived in Belle Harbor, in a studio apartment (#5J) right off the boardwalk at 129 Beach 118th Street and we watched 1980's Memorial Day parade too.

Our apartment view back in the day wasn't the beach but the bay, and the ship's-bottom houses of Belle Harbor, St. Frances de Sales, the two bridges into Rockaway and the jets - twice a day the supersonic Concorde - flying by. But we could just basically fall out of bed, down the elevator, and onto the beautiful beach on a morning like today.

But we didn't pass this pretty garden at the end of the block in those days. It's maintained by this hard-working woman

and a couple of her friends

and it too is a memorial - to another local hero who gave his life for his country: FDNY Battalion Chief John Moran, who died in the 9/11 attack.

We were on the beach pretty early this Memorial Day morning but it took us forever to get there.

We'd left Williamsburg at 7:15 p.m. and so were at the Junction with the earliest-bird beachgoers at the bus stop to get out to Rockaway.

The Q35 finally came but we had serious time to wait in front of this poster for next Saturday's play Serious Business at Tilden High School and wish we had the $45 to see this Jamaican church satire with Keith 'Shebada' Ramsay. At its Kingston premiere a few months ago, The Gleaner said the performers "had the capacity-size audience convulsed with laughter."

But eventually found ourselves walking up the beach block of Beach 126th Street, where we'd often visit our friend Brant Matises' family in the 1970s. The west end of the Rockaway boardwalk is here.

And we got to have a couple of hours of fun on the beach where we grew up a long, long time ago.

Later we went to a parade.

After lunch, back on the beach, we still had the souvenir we'd been handed on the boulevard courtesy of the wonderful folks who made today's Rockaway Memorial Day Parade . . .

and also courtesy of, um, the good old USA's number one trading partner.

Happy Memorial Day!


mike k said...

thanks so much for this - we spent many summers in Belle Harbor before we moved to Neponsit in the 60s. Brought back great memories of the beach, the parades and good ol' Rockaway.

Richard said...

You're quite welcome. Good ol' Rockaway. To be honest, it's a lot nicer now.