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WWII vet brightens up Syosset parade

WWII veteran and Syosset Memorial Day Parade organizer

WWII veteran and Syosset Memorial Day Parade organizer Gus Scutari says hi to parade watchers Monday. Credit: Josh Stewart

Syosset Chamber of Commerce member and armchair meteorologist Bill Medlow pointed his finger in one direction, to note how the rain threatening to ruin the hamlet’s Memorial Day Parade had just about passed.

Ten minutes later, it was raining harder.

Such matters don’t daunt longtime parade organizer and American Legion Post 175 member Gus Scutari, who after surviving World War II wasn’t about to let a little water do him in. The parade’s Pied Piper turned 90 on April 2, but was still more than spry enough to run around to different groups, keeping them in formation until the late arrivers who woke up to thunder realized the parade was still on.

And thankfully, they didn’t sleep in. While conditions looked bleak around the scheduled 9:30 a.m. start, by a little after 10 it was a completely different story.

“Looks like we got some nice weather,” Scutari yelled in the direction of the Syosset High School Marching Band just before starting the procession.

The high school band and its middle school counterparts offered an eclectic mix of George M. Cohan’s “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” as marchers made their way down Jackson Avenue toward the downtown.

After greeting onlookers there, the marchers circled their way back -- using Queens Street and passing VFW Post 6394 in the process -- before ending up at Syosset Memorial Park at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Underhill Boulevard. There, a memorial service was held before the community was invited to American Legion Post 175 on Berry Hill Road for lunch.

Scutari, relieved that the parade would be OK, was already inviting folks on the sidewalks just before the parade began.

“We’ve got hot dogs, soda, ice cream and beer,” Scutari said. “Not in that order.”

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