Celebrations of Old Glory to fill week leading up to Flag Day

The Stars and Stripes will be honored with a weeklong celebration of country and community as Flag D

The Stars and Stripes will be honored with a weeklong celebration of country and community as Flag Day observances begin around the region.

In Burnt Hills, the annual Community Flag Day Parade will march for a 12th year on Thursday, June 13. The parade is a true town event, with nearly 80 percent of residents expected to march. The parade will feature local Little League players, scout troops, homemade floats and marching bands with members of all ages.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Business and Professional Association President Richard Doyle Jr. helps organize the parade and says it’s a chance to bring the community together in a “Normal Rockwell kind of way.” The entire parade is funded by the community, which Doyle says brings about the hometown feel.

“We don’t have any big businesses or corporations to fund the parade,” he said, “so the entire community gets together to support it.”

Doyle says that effort is free of ulterior motives and any hope for something in return. The generosity is rooted deep in community pride and the love of a good parade.

“There’s a little bit of competition between local businesses to see who can build the best floats,” he said. “But it really is all about the kids.”

Following the 7 p.m. parade, fireworks will light the sky behind the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, something Doyle says adds to the aura of the parade. With everyone walking down a closed-off Route 50 to the school, which also serves as the community’s center, veterans, children and residents from all walks of life bring meaning back to Flag Day.

“In this day and age, it’s even more important to have the parade, for the children to know how important this country is and what it offers them,” he said.

Everybody’s uncle

As the “hometown” of Uncle Sam, the celebration in Troy brings out floods of patriotism.

The first parade took place 46 years ago, at the height of the war in Vietnam. Outside the Troy post office, postal workers became upset about a group of people burning the American flag in protest. Later that week, the late James Pasinella rounded up other postal workers and marched down Fourth Street with a flag held high, protesting the original protestors.

In following years, the Troy Flag Day Parade grew to become the largest in the country, and the focus is still on the red, white, and blue.

The Troy Flag Day Parade Committee worked to cut costs following the recession, and that affected all aspects of the parade. It reduced the number of participants, donations and state funding the parade relies on. Ed Manny, president of the committee, says that despite budget cuts, the parade must still go on.

“We are what we are this year, but we’re still having it. People don’t care what the problem is, they want to see a parade,” he said.

On Saturday night, Brass-O-Rama!, a local jazz orchestra from Albany, will play at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall as a prelude to Sunday’s parade. The 8 p.m. show is free to the public, but tickets must be picked up at The Record, at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Street in Troy. The band will also be marching in the parade, in both a traditional ensemble and as a Hawaiian shirt-wearing, street-strolling band.

This announcement comes after a Marine Corps band abruptly canceled its scheduled show Saturday night, following orders from the Pentagon that limited travel. This was just another setback for the parade committee, but the community pulled together to keep the celebration afloat.

According to Manny, the veterans organizations that once marched in the parade and assisted in funding it have since begun to consolidate or dissolve completely.

“The younger people don’t want to march, and the older people can’t. A lot of World War II vets have died or aren’t able to march anymore,” he said.

Resolving that gap in funding wasn’t easy, but Manny says he wasn’t willing to sell out for the sake of the parade. The committee still doesn’t allow advertising in return for parade donations and doesn’t want it to become a forum for political candidates.

“The parade is for the flag and for everyone dying for it, for your kids, parents, your aunt and uncle, your friends, your brother and sister, and I’m like: ‘You want to advertise your two-for-one sale?’ You should go to the parade to see the flag, what it stands for, and for the people dying so you can watch,” he said.

Some of the area’s Flag Day events:

Saturday, June 8

• Saratoga Springs Elks Flag Day Parade: The parade steps off for its 47th year at noon, featuring 10 local bands and nearly 2,000 marchers down Broadway to Congress Park. Prior to the parade, a choir will visit the Wesley Nursing Home.

Sunday, June 9

• Troy Flag Day Parade: Beginning at 1 p.m. along Fourth Street, starting at the corner of Fourth and Main streets and marching to Federal Street.

• Schoharie Flag Day Celebration: 2 p.m. in Veterans Park, at the corner of Route 30 and Spring Street.

• Colonie Elks Flag Day Ceremony: 3 p.m. at the Colonie Memorial Town Hall, featuring a history of six different versions of the American flag, up to the present day. There will also be a speaker, Ernie Amabile, a Vietnam veteran and first legislative analyst for the state Assembly’s Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Monday, June 10

• Rotterdam Elks Club Annual Flag Day Parade: Assembly at 5:30 p.m., step off at 6, from Mohonasen High School to the Elks Club on Curry Road.

Thursday, June 13

• Burnt Hills Flag Day Parade: 7 p.m. on Route 50, from Kingsbury Road to Forest Road. The parade route will be closed from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The annual “Route 50 Mile” will be run 10 minutes prior to step-off, along the same route. Fireworks will follow at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School at dusk.

Friday June 14

• Cohoes/Waterford Elks Flag Day Ceremony: 6 p.m. at the lodge, 45 N. Mohawk St., Cohoes

• Thurman Flag Day Weekend: Events will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with a rededication of the Veteran’s Memorial Honor Roll by the American Legion post, with music to follow from 7 to 9 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Field. Celebrations will continue Saturday at Thurman Station from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with vendors and music. Music will continue at 3 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Field and conclude with fireworks at dusk.

• Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge Flag Day Ceremony: 6 p.m. at the lodge, featuring flags dating to the Revolutionary War.

Categories: Schenectady County

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