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In Greenburgh, A Parade to Unite, Eat and Enjoy

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- About 400 people gathered Saturday morning at the Dannon parking lot in Greenburgh before a parade and barbecue that marked the town’s third annual Unity in the Community day.

The crowd was an eclectic bunch, including politicians, judges, town officials, musicians, motorcyclists and many kids. There was even a woman carrying a snake and a former World War II pilot. Such a mix might confuse an outsider, but Rhonda Nelson, who helped to organize the event, said that diversity was precisely its idea.

“To unite all the community together, to show that we are together,” said Nelson, project manager of the Union Baptist Church, which promoted the event.

The parade started at 11:20 a.m., taking to the Old Army Road and winding through the neighborhood. Drums thundered, fifes whistled, motorcycles roared. Many residents came out on their lawns to greet the passing crowd.

“It’s a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning, celebrating the rich and diverse community of Greenburgh,” said state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who walked side by side with Councilman Kevin Morgan, both waiving to the neighbors.

But the crowd diversity went far beyond Greenburgh. The Samuel H. Dow Fife and Drum Corp, for example, came from Yonkers; the Charles W. Dickerson Fife, Drum and Bugle Corp from New Rochelle; the Band of Brothers motorcyclists from the Bronx. The El Centro Hispano kids and the Wolverines young cheerleaders represented White Plains.

“I love it,” said Richard Fields in front of his house at Beech Street, adding that he was happy that the parade for the first time passed there.

Police cars led and trailed the parade, their blue and red lights blinking silently. But at Manhattan Avenue, a truck from the Fairview fire district blasted its sirens full volume, making people wary for a minute, until they realized it was all part of the show.

After the parade, the crowd moved to Washington Park, where hamburgers and hot dogs waited for them. Kids quickly lined up in front of two giant bouncing castles assembled at Kiddie Land.

The event sponsors, among them Chase bank, Andre F. Baker funeral home and Elmsford chiropractic center, set up their stands.

Town Judge Arlene Gordon-Oliver and Rev. Verlin Williams, pastor of the Union Baptist Church, recounted that the community unity day was the idea of 15 young men who, three years ago, were taken to the judge’s bench for loitering in the park. Gordon-Oliver directed them to the church’s Jobs for Life program, and they organized the first event, Williams said.

“I want to see the community supporting young people,” Gordon-Oliver said.

Have you participated in the parade or watched it passing by? What do you think of the idea of a unity-in-the-community day? You can answer in Facebook .

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