By Steve Sears
The Township of Livingston, which has been holding the annual Livingston Memorial Day Parade since 1950, is readying for its 2019 parade.
Grand Marshall will be Stanley Graboski, Korean War Marine Veteran, and Miss Buddy Poppy will be Reagan Karpi, as selected by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary. The parade starts on Monday, May 27 with a 9:30 a.m. patriotic Remembrance Ceremony at Memorial Oval across the street from Town Hall, and then the parade officially begins at 10:00. The parade proceeds down Livingston Avenue and ends at Congressional Parkway.
Liliana Branquinho, CDP, is Township of Livingston Senior & Adult Enrichment and Special Events Supervisor, speaks to the busyness of planning. “We take notes for whatever happens on that day (of the parade) for the following year, and then we meet in October planning the following year’s parade. The Memorial Day Committee really runs and organizes the parade, and the committee is comprised of the different veterans from the different posts (Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Jewish War Veterans).” Branquinho’s group hires the bands to march and coordinates local groups to march as well, but the veterans do a lot of the actual fundraising and coordinate with the different posts as to who’s marching, arrange for the cars for veterans who have trouble walking to sit in, and also put together the ceremony, select the Grand Marshal, Miss Buddy Poppy, and the guest speaker for the day.
Public donations are always welcome. Letters requesting donations are dropped into resident mailboxes by boy scouts, and donations online can also be accommodated. Donations can also be mailed to the Memorial Day Parade Committee, 204 Hillside Avenue, Livingston, NJ 07039, Attn: Liliana Branquinho. Please make checks payable to Memorial Day Parade Committee.
“One of the things that is discussed a lot among our committee is that many towns don’t have a Memorial Day parade anymore,” Branquinho says. “It’s important for the veterans to keep the message alive and keep reminding people that so many have lost our lives serving our country so we can have the freedoms we enjoy today. Livingston is a town with an incredible sense of volunteerism and they (the community) understand the value of patriotism and the value of our seniors. A lot of the seniors that we have in our town are veterans. It’s important to keep a reminder and teach the younger generations that of what happened and why we’re doing a Memorial Day parade, and why it’s important to honor those we’ve lost and those that are still alive that have and continue to serve our country. Many seniors are so involved in our committee on many different levels.”
There is no rain date for the parade. If weather is inclement, a determination is made the prior evening or the morning of the event if there will be a parade cancellation. However, the patriotic ceremony is still held in the Livingston High School auditorium.
“We want people to come and really support the veterans,” concludes Branquinho. “The veterans are just happy to see people attend the parade. Please come out. Bring your family, bring your children. It really makes the veterans happy to see that.”