Shortly after the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission announced plans to cancel this year’s Memorial Day Parade due to a lack of funding, a grassroots effort led by Councilman Kenneth Tompkins announced on Facebook that the parade will go on as planned.
“Our veterans weren’t going to have a parade so I picked up the ball,” Tompkins said. He stressed the action is not political, but rather a community effort. “It’s just so incredible. I’ve had so many groups contact me,” he said.
He said Angelo Morinello, a former city judge and State Assembly candidate, a Vietnam combat veteran, agreed to contribute $2,500. Other partners include the Kiwanis Club of Niagara Falls, the LaSalle Masons Lodge, Tim Hortons franchisee Bob Burns, and the Niagara Falls Police Department.
He said there was an immediate “outpouring of support.”
Morinello said, “The whole community is coming together on this to honor those that have either survived or given their lives for this country or the constitution. It really has brought everyone together.”
David Fabrizio, chairman of the city veterans commission, had announced Tuesday that the Memorial Day ceremony at American Veterans Monument in Hyde Park will continue on May 28, but that the parade was suspended due to a lack of funding from the city.
Tompkins and Mayor Paul A. Dyster said to their knowledge the city has never provided funds to any group for the parade and both said there was no record of the veterans commission asking for funding for the parade.
Tompkins said local groups that want to march should contact him at 940-7092. Funding has been provided to allow the Niagara Falls High School band to march and some groups have expressed interest in making floats, he said.
“I’m not going to promise this is going to be the world’s greatest parade, but it’s from the heart,” he said.