"We have approximately 300 to 400 people every year marching in the parade," said Mayor Richard Turner. "[The Memorial Day Parade Committee] go out of their way to involve the young people, so that they realize the importance of Memorial Day."
Staring at 9:30 a.m. going west on Highpoint Avenue, the parade will march towards Hudson Avenue then go north towards Maple Street. From Maple Street the parade will continue on to Ridgley Place, and continue on Pleasant Avenue and then to Park Avenue.
The parade route will end at 49th Street and Boulevard East at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument at 11 a.m. "I look forward to the parade every year," said Jim Marchetti, township manager. "I have been living in Weehawken for 41 years and have also been a member of the Weehawken Elks for 28 years. Prior to working with the administration, I have been marching with the Elks [every year]."
"We get hundreds of people on the parade route, about 500 people," said Turner. "[The parade] is probably one of the best Memorial Day activities in the area."
WWII Vet serves as grand marshal
Escorting the marchers down the parade route will be members of the Weehawken Motorcycle Police and Fire Department followed by the Weehawken High School Marching Band under the direction of Steven Spinosa. Following the band will be the United States Marine Corp. Color Guard and this year's Grand Marshal Joseph Fredericks, Sr. of the Weehawken Oulton Kraft Post No. 1923 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Aide to the Grand Marshal Thomas Webb of the American Legion Post No. 18.
"I have been marching in the parade since 1947, and only missed five times," said Fredericks, who looks forward to the parade every year and getting together with good friends from school and way back when.
Fellow members of the Oulton Kraft Post No. 1923, VFW and the American Legion Post No. 18 will also be marching in the parade along with Mayor Turner and the members of the Weehawken Township Council, members of the Board of Education, the Weehawken Elks Lodge No. 1456, and numerous other organizations from throughout Weehawken.
Fredericks has served as the parade's program chairman for the past five years, but this is his first time to be honored as grand marshal.
"I was very proud of this," said Fredericks. "I am a veteran of World War II and [Memorial Day] is a remembrance of those who gave the supreme sacrifice for their country."
Born and raised in Weehawken, Fredericks served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) from 1943 until he was discharged in 1946. As a member of the OSS he participated in Special Forces operations getting the necessary supplies to the resistance forces in order to combat the enemy. His travels took him through Norway, France and Holland among other places, and he received orders for drop zones radioed in from London sometimes under enemy fire.
The Office of Strategic Services later dissolved and became the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947. After being discharged in 1946, Fredericks came home and started what he called "a whole new life."
He has been married to his high school sweetheart for 51 years, and served in the Weehawken Fire Department for 35 years. For the last two years, Fredericks served as prevention deputy chief for the department. Fredericks also has and continues to serve as a volunteer for the North Hudson Chapter of the American Red Cross for the last 44 years. He is also on the advisory board for the Hudson County Chapter and the board of directors for the New Jersey Chapter of the Red Cross.
Fredericks has also received various recognitions including a Congressional recognition for his service with the Red Cross during Sept. 11th. He also was recognized with the Jersey Journal's Every Day Hero Award, and as the 2004 Weehawken and Hudson County Senior Citizen of the Year.
Honoring past and present vets
The parade will end at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on 49th Street and Boulevard East for the culmination ceremony. The Weehawken High School Band will lead off the ceremony with the "Star Spangled Banner," and then the committee will present various awards to the members of the community and veterans including the presentation of wreaths in honor of the men and women in the armed services.
Annual recognitions include the honoring of two Vietnam Gold Star Mothers. Vietnam Gold Star Mothers honors women who have lost a son in combat. This year's honorees are Rose Cemelli and Virginia Dabonka.
"I would say the parade has progressed tremendously over the last 20 years since Mayor Turner became mayor of Weehawken," said Marchetti. "A lot more has been added including a lot more bands and more children [participate]."
"In addition to remembering the community spirit and reminding everyone of the significance of Memorial Day, we emphasize respect and honor for those in the armed services, especially those who are wounded," said Turner. "This is our way of passing on [legacies] from generation to generation."
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