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I Love a Parade - 07/03/13

By Jennifer Johnson

I Love a Parade

I have the honor of co-emceeing the Irondequoit 4th of July parade once again.  I've always enjoyed it but as I sit and prepare my notes for it this year, I feel especially proud.  Our community has been tested this past year.  My family has been tested this past year.  It's been tough. But the parade and the 4th of July is a time to come together to celebrate our country, our community, our history and the people today who pull together to look out for one another.

We have a lot of heroes here.  We have a lot of kind people.  Want proof?  Just go to the parade.

The parade will be kicked off once again by Irondequoit Police Officer Robert Lewis.  You may have heard his name recently.  He jumped into action last Thursday when Rochester Police Sgt. Flamur Zenelovic was hurt in a shootout.  Officer Lewis was just a few feet away and bullets were still flying when he turned to help Sgt. Zenelovic.  He held a tourniquet on Sgt. Zenelovics arm as they raced to the hospital. 

Following Officer Lewis will be the Irondequoit Police Honor Guard that marches in Albany each May for Law Enforcement Memorial Day.  This past May, West Webster firefighter and Webster Police Lt. Mike Chiapperini was honored during that ceremony.

Which brings me to all 5 of the fire departments in Irondequoit.  Members of just about all of them were there in Sea Breeze that awful day, December 24th.  They stood on the Irondequoit side of the swing bridge wishing so much they could go over and help.  I'll never forget the hug I got from one of them that cold, cold morning as he tried so hard to keep the tears in.  But we both cried as he told me, "I know one of them who was killed and you do too." 

As awful as that day was, it was heart-warming to see the departments step up to help in the days that followed.  Each department stood in the cold and asked the public to fill the boot with money to help the firefighters who were injured and the families of the honorable men who were killed. 


And of course it will be with tremendous gratitude that we will watch veterans of all ages make their way down Titus Avenue.  Each of them has a story to tell.  Each of them we owe a thank you.

New this year to the parade I believe is Honor Flight.  Its a not-for-profit organization that flies our veteran heroes to Washington DC to visit and reflect together at their memorials.  Its a tremendous effort and if you ever get the chance to see it or volunteer, I highly recommend it. 

Music always gets the crowd going at a parade and itll be there from the high school marching bands to the finale with the Empire Statesmen who, because offinancial reasons, have to make this their final year as a group.  Well miss their talent and passion in the years to come.

Also performing this year is the Gates Keystone Club Pipes & Drums.  They hold a special place in my heart as they reached out and volunteered a bag pipe player to play Amazing Grace at my daughter Graces memorial service in February. 

It is the Irondequoit Parks and Recreation Department that is organizing the towns 4th of July celebration and is the same group that partnered with 13WHAM and Irondequoit Kiwanis last December for the Spectacle of Lights that raised $20,000 for Golisano Childrens Hospital.

The epicenter of all the 4th of July celebrations is Irondequoit Town Hall.  If you go, you might notice pink ribbons tied around some of the trees there.  They are in memory of my daughter Grace.  Im not sure who to thank for doing that but it brings a smile to my face each time I drive by.

So, it will be hot on the 4th, finding a parking spot can be tough that day and there is a ton of road construction to negotiate around town this year, but. I still love a parade, I am honored to be a part of it and look forward to cheering on so many good people who will be marching the morning of the 4th.

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