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Times have not become any easier for three veterans associations in Whitestone that put on the neighborhood’s annual Memorial Day parade, and local civics and war heroes from the Greatest Generation are again hoping the generosity of the community will help fund a longtime tradition in the northeast Queens neighborhood.
But increased city regulations have also dealt a critical blow to fund-raising.
The Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association is a coalition of three posts operating in the area: one from the American Legion, one from the Jewish War Veterans and one from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. But due to a poor economy and fiscal belt-tightening, the vets are in danger of not being able to afford to operate the storied Whitestone tradition, which runs about $8,000.
“The Memorial Day parade has been around since I was a kid,” said Kim Cody, president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, whose grandson now marches in the event. “If it goes by the wayside, we would lose a piece of our community’s history.”
The Taxpayers recently wrote a check to the association to the tune of $1,000 to help with parade expenses, like hiring a band to play, but a larger source of funding was scrapped this year due to several conditions outside the civic’s control.
The Taxpayers usually throw an event known as Family Appreciation Day to raise parade cash, held at Francis Lewis Park at the foot of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge. But with ongoing bridge construction, Cody said safety concerns played into cancelling the event along with stiffer city regulations.
For example, because the appreciation day would have taken place in a city park, Cody and other officers would not have been able to hand out hot dogs to families unless they attended a five-day food handling course in Manhattan, Cody said.
“None of the members had time to do that,” he said. “I work full time.”
While Cody eventually found some licensed volunteers, he said a dearth of funding was not making the process any easier, since the civic did not receive any state grants this year.
“We are hoping we can do it next year, even if we have to look for a new location because of the additional requirements,” Cody said.
But the veterans are facing even leaner times. Young men and women returning from overseas combat tend not to join veterans associations, causing dwindling membership and by extension a shrinking operating budget. The three organizations are thinking of consolidating into the American Legion building on Clintonville Street near 10th Avenue, according to Cody.
Roslyn Weiss, treasurer for the veterans association, said local businesses and other civics, like Welcome to Whitestone, have also tried to absorb the costs of the parade, but she would also love to see the community lend a hand.
“We hope that the people of Whitestone will help, so we can continue with this wonderful program,” she said.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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