American flags, gleaming fire engines and residents waving from lawn chairs marked the path of Amityville's Fourth of July parade, billed as a salute to World War II veterans from the village and surrounding communities on the 70th anniversary of the war's end.
More than a dozen of those men were honored as grand marshals yesterday, riding at the head of a march that started at the village beach and wound its way to a celebratory barbecue at the firehouse.
"It is an honor for me to be here," said Robert Serling, 94, a former Huntington resident who served in the Pacific in the Army during the war and now lives in Alabama. Catching up with old friends and comrades was "beautiful," he said.
As the veterans assembled, so did the other parade marchers: Boy Scouts, dance students, civic leaders, a couple dozen members and friends of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community mosque on Union Avenue. They wore matching Muslims For Loyalty T-shirts. "Loyalty to America, love for America and peace" was their message, said Omair Malik, a project manager who'd driven in from New Jersey to march.
Local politics made its way into the parade too, with some lawn signs and T-shirts bearing messages supporting the local police union, embroiled in a bitter struggle with some village trustees who are trying to curtail pay for officers.
When the parade moved down South Bayview Avenue, many residents lingered on the sidewalk outside their homes. Rich and Cathy Meyerose, he a marine surveyor and she a homemaker, village residents for decades, said they'd known most of the veterans who were being feted as heroes. They'd sailed against them and worked alongside them. Of William Lauder, an Army veteran who landed on the beaches of France, Rich said "he's been a fixture all our lives."
Down the block, Mary Casey said she'd been touched by the Muslims for Loyalty marchers.
Richard Zimmer, 37, an advertising agency owner, and Jessica Handy, 31, an office manager, moved into the village a year ago. They'd wanted, Handy said, "to see what the community is about."
Their conclusion, Zimmer said, was that "the community is pretty cool."
Pat Cammaroto, 93, a Marine who still lives in the village, recalled the Fourth of July 70 years ago as not much of a holiday -- after a brutal battle on Okinawa, he said, "we were celebrating that we're alive."
How did he enjoy yesterday's holiday?
"At my age, every day is great," he said.