Inwood resident Diane Tyler, whose daughter Sharifah is a home health aide, and has many family members and friends on what is called the frontline of caring for and responding to the needs of Covid-19 patients said she was thinking of a way to honor the front-liners.
“I did it because they deserve it,” Diane said, about her phone call to another Inwood stalwart Pete Sobol that got the ball rolling to organize an essential workers appreciation parade on May 24, in place of the annual Inwood Memorial Day Parade that usually takes place the Sunday before the holiday.
“We need to show them the spirit of our appreciation,” Diane added after several vehicles including the Inwood Fire Department, community businesses and residents, blared sirens, honked honks, blinked lights and waved signs from the Inwood Long Island Rail Road station down Doughty Boulevard to Mott Avenue.
“It was done because the community wants to let the essential workers how valued and appreciated they are,” Sobol said. “There is not event in town when they don’t step forward. Amid the pandemic they are serving and deserve a tremendous amount of appreciation.”
Sobol and Tyler were assisted by Inwood resident Byron Alvarado and Sanitary District 1 Commission Chairman Jim Vilardi and Superintendent George Pappas in organizing the parade.
Before the procession began, lifelong Inwood resident Helen Hunter stood at the intersection of Doughty Boulevard and Mott Avenue and held several handmade signs created by children she knows. “All of my family was in the military,” she said, explaining her attendance. “My father fought in World War I, my brother in WW II, had an uncle in the Korean War and sister in the military. We have to respect the past. We have to work together as we are in this together.”
After the parade, a brief ceremony was held at the Veterans Memorial that is outside the catering hall building which housed the Pfc. John J. Oliveri Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1582. Post Commander Miguel Martinez led the ceremony. He is a master sergeant with the United States Army Reserve and has served in the military for 26 years
“In learning about military history, you take pride in knowing that we do not forget about our dead and that you will never leave a fallen comrade behind or be left behind,” Martinez told the Herald. “We will be honoring our war dead, also thanking essential workers for all that they do.”
After he laid a wreath at the memorial and before the colors were raised Martinez said: “We don’t forget our fallen loves ones.” He ended with, “God Bless America.”
Saying that he sees people who are afraid of what is happening during the coronavirus health crisis, Alvarado said that the parade was organized to get people out of their homes for a while. “No matter how hard the time is we have to stay the strong and stay together,” he said.