By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer season at the shore, but before the party begins, Downbeach communities pause to honor the men and women who make our American freedoms possible. All three towns commemoriate Memorial Day with services to honor the fallen heros of the American military.
Here’s a lineup of events for Monday, May 29:
The Greater Absecon Island VFW Post 215 of Ventnor will commemorate Memorial Day with a half-hour service starting at 9:45 a.m. Monday, May 29 at Ventnor City Hall, 6201 Atlantic Ave.
A second service will be held 11 a.m. at the VFW Post home, 601 N. Dorset Ave. The service will be led by Senior Vice-commander and Vietnam War veteran Tom Klein. Vocalist Michelle Cook will sing the national anthem. The post will introduce its newly elected officers, who are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Sandpiper Pipes & Drums of Atlantic County will honor those lost in the last year. Guest speaker is past VFW State Commander Brian Wiener.
Refreshments will be served following the service. Poppies will be distributed, and the Post will hold a membership drive. Anyone interested in joining the Post should bring their DD-214 to determine eligibility.
In case of inclement weather, the service will move indoors at the Post home.
The Margate Mothers Association will host its annual Memorial Day Parade along Ventnor Avenue starting at 10 a.m. Monday, May 29, followed by a service at War Memorial Park located at S. Mansfield Avenue.
Parade participants will begin lining up at 9:30 a.m. behind the Margate Municipal Building on Union Avenue. Parade units include Margate Police Department and motorcycles, the Sea Cadet Color Guard, the Atlantic City High School ROTC, newly elected Margate officials Mayor Michael Collins, and Commissioners Maury Blumberg and Kathy Horn. Margate sports teams will be well represented with T-Ball, Little League baseball and softball teams and the Margate Riptides lacrosse team. Leslie’s Dance Studio and the Margate Fire Department will also be participating. Youngsters on bicycles can also be part of the back of the procession.
The memorial ceremony will begin approximately at 10:30 a.m.
The annual tradition brings together Margate residents and visitors to pay tribute to fallen heroes and to show appreciation for current military members.
For more information, call 609-823-9144.
Longport’s annual Memorial Day Parade will form at 10:45 a.m. on the beach side of Atlantic Avenue, between 32nd and 35th avenues. The parade will start at 11 a.m. with a fly-over by F-18 fighter jets from the 177th Squadron of the NJ Air National Guard.
The parade route travels down 35th Avenue to Ventnor Avenue where it will travel to Thomas B. Reed Memorial Park where a memorial service will begin at approximately 11:30 a.m.
A Longport Police vehicle will lead the parade, followed by Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo and Commissioners Dan Lawler and Jim Leeds. Last year’s Wounded Warrior Week recipients and guest speaker U.S. Army SSG Trevor Brunell and his wife, Kara, will follow in their own convertible.
Teen Patriots will hand out small American flags to children along the parade route. Other units include the American Legion Post 469 Color Guard, veterans from Longport’s American Legion Post, Boy Scout Troop 389 of Egg Harbor Township and cheerleaders from Atlantic Christian School in Egg Harbor Township. Longport Beach Patrol follows with one of their boats in tow, along with apparatus from the Longport Volunteer Fire Department.
Anyone can follow the parade dressed in patriotic garb on foot, riding a bike or pushing a stroller or wagon. Those who want to be in the parade should arrive at 10:45 a.m. at the Longport playground and take position behind the lifeguard boat once the parade starts forming.
Longport American Legion and Ladies Auxiliary sponsor and coordinate Longport’s Memorial Day events each year and look forward to seeing many patriotic Americans at the Memorial Day event.