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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A tale of two parades

Our son Marc, for the second year in a row, was in the Memorial Day parades in both Hurley and Kingston on Monday as a member of the J. Watson Bailey Middle School Marching Band.

Rather than have to track him down at the end of each event, Rhona and I simply walked alongside the band members as they marched so we wouldn’t get separated. This gave us the chance not only to enjoy the band’s music, but also see the people who lined the streets and gauge their reactions.

The Hurley parade was a true slice of Americana – fire trucks, the marching band, Cub Scouts, war veterans, Colonial re-enactors and local dignitaries, all being cheered on by large crowds in a small town bursting with flags and holiday spirit.

The Kingston parade, by contrast, was disappointing. The participating units were enthusiastic, to be sure, but the crowd was sparse, and the people who did turn out to watch seemed ambivalent.

There were very few people lining Broadway between Kingston High School (where the parade began) and the Albany Avenue/Chandler Drive intersection. The crowd was a bit bigger around Academy Green, but only because residents of the nearby Gov. Clinton Apartments had come outside to watch.

As the parade wended its way through Uptown Kingston – on Clinton Avenue, Main Street and Wall Street – there were virtually no spectators at all. The crowd was bigger again on North Front Street – especially between Deising’s and Dietz Stadium, the end of the route – but I got the feeling that most of those spectators were there simply because they were relatives of parade participants and were waiting to pick them up in the stadium parking lot.

In March, when the weather usually is unpleasant, there always is a huge turnout for Kingston’s St. Patrick’s Parade, an event that honors the heritage of a foreign country. Perhaps someone can explain to me, then, why almost no one comes to the city’s Memorial Day Parade, when the weather is warmer and the purpose is to honor people who have fought and died for our own United States.



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