The parade will begin at Highpoint Avenue and will travel to Hudson Place. The parade will then make a right turn on Maple Street, then a left on Ridgeley Place to Park Avenue. It will continue north on Park Avenue to 49th Street, then east on 49th Street to Boulevard East. The procession will continue south to the Soliders' and Sailors' Monument for closing ceremonies at about 11:30 a.m.
The Grand Marshal of this year's parade is Thomas Webb from the American Legion Post 18.
Chuck Barone, the parade's chairman, has once again assembled an array of bands, floats, performers and of course, veterans groups to march in the 1.9 mile parade.
"We've also invited some veterans of the Iraqi War to come and participate this year," said Barone, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the U.S. Army. "We will have a convertible with the veterans in it and a sign that reads, `Welcome Home.'"
One of the highlights of the parade is U.S. Army Specialist Stephen Tierney, who has returned home safely to Weehawken after two tours of duty in Iraq and will march in this year's parade.
Tierney, who is currently working in the print shop for Guardian Life Insurance in New York, remembers attending Memorial Day parades when he was a youngster growing up in Weehawken.
"Although I've never marched in the parade, I've gone to see the parade many times," said Tierney, who received his honorable discharge from the Army last July after nearly five years in the military. "I know the route very well. I am happy to be a part of the parade, although I'm not really sure what my role is going to be. But being a part of the parade certainly means a lot to me."
It's the first Memorial Day in five years that Tierney will celebrate on American soil and it will have a special place in Tierney's heart, as he remembers a friend and fallen comrade.
Staff Sgt. Curtis Mitchell, a native of Ohio, was in a tank right behind Tierney last December, when Mitchell stopped to check to make sure there were no roadside bombs along the route the Army tanks were traveling. "He pulled over to check and these canisters blew up, killing him," Tierney said. "Unfortunately, I was there to witness the whole thing. He was a good friend of mine, so this Memorial Day will mean a lot to me. He's the main thing I'll be thinking about this year. Never mind the personal sacrifice he made, but he was my friend and there's nothing like losing a friend."
Tierney said that he wanted to go to South Carolina, where Mitchell is buried, to visit his gravesite for Memorial Day, but will honor his friend instead with his participation in the Weehawken Memorial Day parade. "It definitely means a lot to me," Tierney said. "I think it's good that no matter how many people are against the war in Iraq, they still don't turn their backs on us and continue to honor and support us."
Tierney will enjoy Memorial Day with his daughter, Leah, who is now 10 years old.
"She wants to march with me," Tierney said. "We have to see if that's possible."
Leading the way
An honor guard from the First Brigade, Third Battalion, 98th Division of the 385th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army Reserve, based out of Lodi, will lead the parade. Five members of that Army Reserve corps will carry the flags throughout the parade route.
Additional groups participating include: Weehawken Police Motorcycle Escort, the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue Escort, the Weehawken High School marching band, a fife and drum marching unit.
In addition, Mayor Richard Turner and the township council will march together, followed by members of the Board of Education.
"The parade has great significance," Turner said. "We're educating the young people about the veterans and the many sacrifices they made. A lot of the freedoms we enjoy today are because of those who were willing to give their lives for their country."
There will be several different organizations from the township represented, like the Weehawken Elks, the Senior Citizens, the Weehawken Recreation Department, Weehawken Against Alcohol and Drugs Committee, two different Girl Scout and Brownie troops, the Weehawken Volunteer First Aid Squad, the Ambulance Squad and the American Red Cross Hudson/Bergen Chapter.
There will be patriotic characters along the parade route, giving out small American flags.
Barone realizes the importance of the parade.
"I think the parade has its importance, especially in the light of what is happening today," Barone said. "There are sacrifices being made abroad as we speak. It's a way to also remember the sacrifices that were made in the past. Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart, because I recall the guys who I served with who didn't come home. Thank God I'm here to pay tribute to my colleagues who didn't make it."
Turner makes sure that the tradition continues.
"In Weehawken, Memorial Day has always been a special day," said Turner. "We try to involve more and more children's groups, so we can pass on the importance of the day from generation to generation. It becomes difficult now, because there are so many veterans who are no longer with us. Our parade ends up as a tremendous tribute to them."