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Parade unites Yaphank residents

Members of the Veterans of Foreign War Post

Members of the Veterans of Foreign War Post 6194 salute fallen troops at a memorial service at Yaphank Cemetery. (May 29, 2011) Credit: Lisa Finn

Small-town spirit was abundant Sunday as members of Yaphank's tight-knit community turned out for the annual parade, a tradition of more than 60 years.

Sponsored by the Yaphank Fire Department, the parade has been an annual event “for as long as I can remember,” said John Kinney, a den leader of Yaphank’s Cub Scout Pack 79.

Kinney marched in the parade as a Cub Scout himself in the 1980s. Not much has changed, he said. “The parade is still the same.”

Holding on to cherished small-town values is a tie that binds longtime residents such as Jane Cardi, who was born in 1935 and has lived in Yaphank all her life. Cardi, who marched in the parade back when she was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary in the 1950s, said she looks forward to seeing familiar faces at the event, which locals have kept small and close-knit.

“It’s like a family,” she said. “It’s just us. This is our little town.”

Scout and church leaders say they work to instill values in Yaphank’s young people, stressing the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Paul Van Thomme, whose children are members of Cub Pack 79, said the Scouts visited Calverton Memorial Cemetery to pay respect to those who died serving the United States and protecting freedoms. The kids, Van Thomme said, “need to learn what Memorial Day is all about.”

Added Maj. Daniel Dresch of Veterans of Foreign War Post 6194, after a memorial service and moment of silence at Yaphank Cemetery: “It’s important for us, as veterans, to show appreciation for those who have served, and who are still serving, our country. We wish them Godspeed.”

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