NORTH ARLINGTON –
The borough made history of sorts with this year’s Memorial Day Parade, held May 27, when it designated two female veterans as co-grand marshals.
They were Jennifer O’Brian, a member of the Army who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq; and Mary Biro, who completed a tour of duty with the Army in Kuwait.
North Arlington Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Harvey Applegate said that he recommended conferring that honor to the women in recognition of their military service to their country and added that he believed it marked the first time that the borough had selected a woman – two in this case – to lead the parade.
Borough Recreation Director Jimmy Herrmann, who, along with the local recreation commission, organized the annual event, estimated that some 2,500 spectators watched the 500 marchers from 30 participating units as they proceeded along the route, beginning at Canterbury Ave. and ending about three quarters of a mile down Ridge Rd. at Borough Hall.
Probably the most distinctive entries to the parade were six privately-owned military vehicles – including a jeep, an M35 Deuce transport, and a Humvee with a 50-caliber weapon mounted on it that fired periodic propane blasts.
Musical entertainment was provided by the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band, Little Ferry Pipe Band, North Arlington Volunteer Fire Dept. Band, and local school bands.
Also marching were local VFW, American Legion and Ladies Auxiliary, government officials, units from the North Arlington Police Department, North Arlington Volunteer Fire Department, North Arlington Volunteer Emergency Services, a host of community civic organizations including the Boy Scouts, Daisies, Elks, Emblem, Women’s Club, and youngsters from local recreation teams, along with the Garden State Roller Girls, classic cars and clowns.
Also notable was the first public appearance of the borough’s newly acquired ambulance, described by borough spokesman Thom Ammirato as “all electronic and boasts the latest in medical equipment and radio communications [and] runs on a diesel engine.”
This vehicle, which replaces an eight-year-old model, according to Emergency Management Services Chief Tony Mondaro, now gives the borough four usable ambulances.
Mayor Peter Massa said: “The men and women of our EMS team and the N.A. Volunteer Emergency Squad do a terrific job responding to people in need of medical attention and the [borough] council and I want to make sure they have the best equipment we can afford to make their job easier.”
North Arlington bonded $176,000 to purchase the new ambulance and spent an additional $15,000 to outfit it.
– Ron Leir