Welcome to Forest Park Memorial Drive 

By now, most of you have heard the story - but we will repeat it again for the unitiated. In the wake of World War 1, the residents of Woodhaven planted 70 trees along Forest Park Drive, one in the name for each young man from Woodhaven who lost his life in that war.  Each year, at Memorial Day, the trees would be decorated and the families would visit those trees. But over time, the tradition was lost and to those of us growing up in Woodhaven, they were just regular trees. But a few years ago, the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society rediscovered their purpose and with the help of American Legion Post 118, revived the tradition of decorating the trees. Last year, the 2 organizations submitted a request to rededicate the road as Forest Park Memorial Drive, not only for the trees, but for the many memorials that reside along the road. We received support from various organizations and elected officials and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley submitted legislation which passed unanimously and so on Saturday, May 20th we gathered for the ceremony.

Here is a video of the ceremony (at 20 minutes long, it's a very nice watch). There are some shorter versions embedded below among the pictures:

We were joined by the Junior ROTC Honor Guard from Franklin K. Lane.

The new sign was covered up and waiting to be unveiled. The sign will be moved to a location across the street; this location was easier for the ceremony.

The ceremony got underway under cloudy skies. It would rain, even a bit heavily, before it was over. But there was a really nice turnout from the community.

There were a few kids from St. Thomas the Apostle on hand and we persuaded them to lead everyone in the singing of "God Bless America."

The National Anthem was performed on Sax by William Gati - he did a great job!

Members of American Legion Post 118 were on hand for this historic ceremony.

The Rev. Dr. Norman Whitmire Jr. from All Saints Episcopal Church led the group in prayer.

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who introduced legislation and got this sign up in a real short amount of time, hosted the event and gave an introduction to what we were about to witness.

Here is video of Council Member Elizabeth Crowley's introduction.

Then we were joined by State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who spoke about the co-naming.

Here is video of State Senator Joseph Addabbo:

Next up was our Assemblyman, Mike Miller who was at the very first meeting where this was discussed (the Woodhaven Historians meet on the first Tuesday of every month at the Avenue Diner 91-06 Jamaica Avenue at 7 PM).

Here is video of Assemblyman Mike Miller:

Then we were honored to hear from American Legion Post 118 Past Commander John Lawless.

Video of Commander Lawless:

And the last speaker was yours truly, Ed Wendell, Executive Director of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society. 

Here is video of our speech:

Next, we decorated the last tree. The flags were donated by American Legion Post 118 and Post 118's American Legion Auxiliary.

The moment we were all waiting for! 

There we go - that looks nice!

Afterwards, there was lots of picture taking. That's Post 118 Commander Hector Johnson holding a Proclamation from the New York City Council. And we were given a gift of a street sign that is going to look great in our backyard!

The ceremony was over and we could all enjoy the beauty of the park and the memorial trees. We'll post a bunch of pictures below without comment. Just keep in mind that each of these trees were planted in the name of a young man from Woodhaven who never came home .

If you have any comments, or would like to suggest other projects, drop us a line at info@projectwoodhaven.com or projectwoodhaven@aol.com 

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Photos and Video by Joey Wendell