The parade will take place on Sunday, May 27, beginning at noon near the intersection of Metropolitan and Ascan avenues.
A ceremony will be held prior to the parade, starting at 11 a.m., in front of the American Legion at 107-15 Metropolitan Avenue. The laying of wreaths at Remsen Cemetery will occur after the parade.
This year’s sponsors include Aigner Chocolates, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Maspeth Federal Savings, 5 Burros Cafe, Acey Ducey’s, TD Bank, Budde Cleaners, West Side Tennis Club, Women’s Club of Forest Hills and Nick’s Bistro, among others.
Jeff Hayes of the Forest Hills Kiwanis said that through the work of Tom Long, commanding officer of American Legion Continental Post #1424, participation grew from 26 groups to over 40.
“It’s important for everyone in the community to get together to honor those who sacrificed their lives for us,” he said.
The annual cost to host the parade is around $15,000, and Long said the parade struggled for a few years after several local elected official retired funding was lost.
When they were considering shutting the parade down, they received help from an unlikely source.
“You all know who Ray Romano is, right?” Long asked. “He’s a Forest Hills boy and for seed money, he sent us $4,500, which was top secret, to start the parade.”
Following Romano’s generosity, more contributions from community businesses came in and the parade has been growing ever since. Long noted that they were able to pay Romano back.
“We’ve been received remarkably by the community of Forest Hills and we feel honored to be a part of this parade,” said Rachel Kellner, co-owner of Aigner Chocolates.
The chocolate shop will be offering customers a 15 percent discount the day of the parade.
This year’s grand marshals are Kew-Forest School’s Carla Jantos MacMullen and Lieutenant Commander Michael Arcati.
Arcati, who attended the event with his wife, Delia, and their two sons, spoke about the hardships on his family during his military career and the welcome they received when they finally moved to Forest Hills.
“I was sent to Africa for a year, and we were sent through the tumbler of being deployed,” Arcati said. “My wife became a single mother while I had to go do my duty.”
Although the couple intended to buy a house on Long Island when he returned from service, the deal fell through and they recalled passing by Forest Hills, the “cute little town that’s beautiful and green,” while on the LIRR. They instantly felt at home.
“We came here and we didn’t have a school for the kids, we were scrambling at the last minute, but the school took care of us,” he said. “We feel really welcomed here, especially by inviting me and my family to be in this parade.”