The sun came out; the parade was a hit


The weather was a bit iffy Monday morning, but thanks to a collective optimism urging the sun to make its appearance, the Bayport Memorial Day Parade kicked off at 11 a.m.

Scott McKendrick, who served in the Navy in Lebanon, the Persian Gulf and Iraq, commented that his mom raised and lowered the flag for years. “She lived next door to Memorial Park,” he said. “Charlie Bogel paid her a dime a day to do it.”

Bogel’s name is known to old-timers; there was a bench devoted to him as well as Stan Orenkewicz, Bayport’s former postmaster who lived on Gillette Avenue.

Bayport Civic president Bob Draffin announced it was the 77th anniversary of Bayport Memorial Park. The boulder, he said, was the first commemorative reminder of those who served in Bayport during World War I and World War II. Later, two more commemorative areas emerged.

The flyover by Bayport Aerodrome was cancelled. “The cloud cover is 300 feet,” said Draffin. “The lead guy is a Vietnam vet and was really disappointed.”

But at least 1,500 residents showed up, some with friends. Frank Giebfried, the local historian with the Bayport-Blue Point Heritage Association, wore Gene Horton’s tie. Horton was the beloved member of the Bayport Heritage Association who lived in Blue Point, gave walking tours, and wrote monthly history columns.

Ruth Gilligan came early. Her husband, who passed away, was a longtime Bayport Fire Department fireman, who fought in Vietnam and contracted Agent Orange. “He was only out of high school and off he went,” she said. “It’s a great fire department and an honor to be here.”

Lt. Cmdr. Jim McMahon served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1973. He and his wife, Helen, now live in Brightview Sayville, the assisted-living facility, and came to the parade with their daughter, Jessica Funk.

Neil Needleman was on a Navy Destroyer, the USS Remy, during a tense moment. “My greatest recollection was the Cuban Blockade. (The Soviet Union began constructing ballistic launch sites; the U.S. responded with a 13-day naval blockade until an agreement was reached to remove missiles already there and destroy the sites.) All I could see was hundreds of ships. Then they held us back.”

The Bayport Fire Department slid gracefully down Middle Road with their 1955 Mack truck, while the others were delayed due to an ambulance call.

They made it later on.

Kudos to the Bayport-Blue Point High School marching band. They were great.

Draffin, who marched in the parade as a Cub Scout, concluded there were at least six local groups who marched.

“Looking over from the podium, it was the most attendance I’ve seen in years,” he said. 


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