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Crowd salutes heroes in Forest Hills

Hundreds of revelers turned Metropolitan Avenue into a street for heroes Sunday as Forest Hills held its annual Memorial Day parade.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Borough President Helen Marshall led hundreds of veterans, marchers and other bands down the avenue in honor of the members of the armed forces who have defended the nation. People of all ages cheered on former and current soldiers from the sidewalks, thanking them for their efforts overseas.

“It shows that people care and they’re [the soldiers] not forgotten,” said Tammy Lancer, who attended the parade with her husband, Chris; daughter, Ashley, 5; and neighbor Matthew Yengle, 4.

Chris Lancer, who has lived in the neighborhood all his life, said the parade has grown tremendously over the years as more and more New Yorkers have discovered the event and gotten to know the neighborhood.

“I remember when they used to have the colonial marchers,” he recalled.

Some of the revelers said they came to the parade to remind their families of the values Americans share. Charlene Perez brought 15 members of her Richmond Hill Girl Scout troop to march in the parade so that they could meet with the troops and learn about their experiences.

“It gives them morale. It’s very important and I want to pass that on to the girls,” she said.

Bloomberg conveyed this message when he greeted revelers and veterans. The mayor reminded New Yorkers that even though the holiday was a time for fun, they should take time to thank veterans.

“Most of us have not lived overseas,” the mayor said, and if we had “we would realize how much we have and how little others have.”

The parade drew veterans from outside New York, too. Nicholas Kehoe, president of the veterans group Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, has come to Queens from his hometown in Falls Church, Va., for the past five years to take part in the celebration.

Kehoe, who retired from the Air Force in 2000 after 44 years of service, said he was invited by one of his Forest Hills veteran friends to see the parade. Since then he has enjoyed the festivities.

“I like it because of the diversity you see in Forest Hills. It really is a reflection of Americana and patriotism,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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