By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The nation’s 237th birthday isn’t until July 4, but the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization, decided to celebrate five days early. The Long Island Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, the governing body for all of the knights’ councils in Brooklyn, sponsored an Independence Day Parade on Saturday on 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights.
Members of various councils of the knights council’s marched behind their banners along the avenue from the start of the parade route, 71st Street, to the end, 86th Street, where the Knights of Columbus Archbishop John Hughes Council is located. A reception took place in the council’s ballroom following the parade.
The parade included a salute to the military with several honor guards from different branches of the service marching to the cheers of spectators. The grand marshal was Rick Kenny, a US Marine Corps veteran.
There was plenty of patriotic music in the air, as marching bands entertained spectators with “Stars and Stripes Forever” and other John Philip Sousa favorites.
Many of the marchers stopped and handed tiny American flags to spectators, who were only too happy to grab them and then wave them at the next group of marchers.
The parade’s participants also included local elected officials. Among those marching were US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-State Island) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn). Golden marched alongside his deputy chief of staff, John Quaglione, who is a member of the Knights of Columbus. “Happy Fourth of July, everybody!” Grimm called out to spectators as he walked along the route. Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Bensonhurst-Sunset Park), and council members Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and Domenic Recchia Jr. (D-Coney Island-Gravesend) rode the parade route aboard a fire truck.
At the post-parade reception, the Rev. Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, director of development for the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, was presented with the Pro-Patria Award for his patriotic endeavors. Gigantiello has worked with Sept. 11 first responders over the years to provide spiritual guidance. The Father Brogan Community Service Awards were given to members of the Bay Ridge Ambulance Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) and to members of the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
This year marked the Knights’ 108th Annual Independence Day Parade. Organizers said the march was held for many years on July 4 itself. But a decision was made a few years ago to switch the event to the Saturday before the holiday. This year's parade was presented with the cooperation of the 13th Avenue Merchants Association.
The Knights of Columbus was formed in 1882 by a Connecticut pastor, the Rev. Michael McGivney, as a charitable organization, according to the organization’s website. As a sign of their patriotism, the knights took Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America, as their patron. The goal of the knights is for Catholic men to work together as brothers to serve the needy in their communities. The knights currently have 14,000 councils around the world.