Bridesburg's annual Memorial Day observance draws crowds

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia, bands, student groups and veterans' organizations were among those who stepped off from Richmond and Juniata streets on Memorial Day morning.

As usual, spectators lined the route.

"It's part of the history of the neighborhood," said Bridesburg resident Kim Gillespie. "My kids have been coming here since they were little kids."

"We just want to celebrate for the veterans who served our country," said Analiese Frankus-Vakasy from Northeast Philadelphia.

"My husband served, my grandfather, my father...," said Martha Mason from Bridesburg. "It's a nice way to pay tribute."

Before the parade, there was a memorial service and wreath-laying at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery.

Pearl Harbor survivor Alex Horanzy was honored, and the men and women who lost their lives for our country were remembered.

The Bridesburg parade started after World War II, when Edward Dubeck and his friend returned from overseas.

His family helps keep the parade going and comes back every year.

"I go from what my dad said," said Karen Hickey, Dubeck's daughter. "He made it home, and his buddies didn't. So he said we've got to remember them somehow, so that's what we were taught all these years. So we come back."

This year's parade is dedicated to Marge Chmielewski, who spoke to Action News in 2015.

During World War II she worked in a factory where she assembled ammo and taught the men how to detonate rockets and missiles.

She marched in the Bridesburg parade for more than 60 years before she died last fall.

Her family was there on Monday, holding her hat in their hands.

"She was a Wave in the Navy in World War II, and she lived for this parade... like, every year for the veterans and the American legion." said her daughter, Cheryl Solenski. "And this was her thing, and they put this parade in my mother's honor this year. It's like the proudest moment in our lives."
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