Rockaway Warriors Weekend is Here!

 Rockaway Warriors Weekend is Here!

By Katie McFadden

Rockaway and Breezy Point! Line the streets this evening, Thursday, July 11, to give our heroes a warm welcome to the peninsula. Rockaway Warriors Weekend is here, and Hope for the Warriors will be rolling into town with a welcome parade, followed by a weekend full of fun activities on the water for some of our wounded warriors.

On Thursday, July 11, Hope for the Warriors will be leaving FDNY’s Rescue 3 in Staten Island and will be escorted with the help of the NYPD, across the Verrazzano Bridge, down the Belt Parkway and across the Marine Parkway Bridge onto the peninsula. They’re expected to arrive sometime around 6:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., make their way down Rockaway Beach Boulevard to Beach 120th Street, where they’ll turn down to Beach Channel Drive and will head back up to Roxbury and Breezy Point to kickstart the festivities. Neighbors are asked to wear their best red, white and blue, bring out their flags, and cheer as these wounded warriors pass by.

It’s just the start of Rockaway Warriors Weekend, organized by a group of local firefighters including Richie Cannon, Richie Whalen, Mike Whalen, and Enrico Boletti. It’s all sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation, the FDNY Foundation, the Breezy Point Co-op, The Graybeards, Civil Trade Unions of New York City, Harbor Light and Bishops Barn, which are all pitching in to make the weekend perfect.

Thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation, 26 warriors from around the country and their families will be staying at the Marriott Hotel by JFK Airport but will spend most of their weekend enjoying activities in Breezy Point, mostly near the Rockaway Point Yacht Club, which will first host a welcome dinner for the warriors as they arrive on Thursday evening. On Friday and Saturday, several locals have donated their boats to take the warriors out fishing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and sailing on the bay off of the Rockaway Point Yacht Club.

AmpSurf is also playing a big part this year, once again getting the warriors on the waves with adaptive surfing equipment on Beach 219th Street on the oceanside of Breezy Point. On the mornings of July 12 and 13, volunteers will be putting in time to help the warriors hang ten. Volunteers are needed for all roles including Booth Support, Beach Assist, Water Assist, Safety with CPR/First Aid certification, and Surf Instructors. For information on volunteering, see:

On Friday evening, The Graybeards are taking the warriors out to dinner at The Harbor Light on Beach 130th Street, ahead of a fundraising concert in Breezy Point. Limited tickets will be available for a $40 donation for a country show by a seven-piece live band, Jake’s Rockin Country Band, at The Colony Theatre (500 Bayside) from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is BYOB. For tickets, contact Theresa Flanigan at 718-306-2098.

Saturday will include more activities on the water, followed by a luau party on the beach on the bayside of Breezy Point. The festivities will conclude on Sunday morning, July 14, with a Mass for the veterans and their families at 10 a.m. at the 9/11 Memorial in Breezy Point. Some of the warriors who arrived prior to Thursday were also treated to a trip to the 9/11 Museum in Manhattan.

NYPD Aviation, Highway 2 and the 100th Precinct will be escorting the warriors all weekend to make sure everyone arrives safely.

The Koozie Man is sponsoring t-shirts for the event, which will be sold along the parade route, including near St. Francis de Sales on Beach 129th on Thursday, or can be purchased through Marianne “Skippy” Doyle.

Richie Cannon, one of the organizers, says some of the warriors participating are repeat participants, as they’ve enjoyed their time at past Rockway Warrior Weekend events. “This is a weekend to thank our veterans,” Cannon said. “This is a big civil servant community, and we lost a lot of people on 9/11 that we continue to lose, and we just wanted to show our support for our veterans and their families and let them know that the communities here constantly think about them and we’re grateful for their service and sacrifice.”

Among those showing their continued support will be Patrick Klein, the father of late firefighter Timmy Klein, who also used to volunteer for Rockaway Warriors Weekend. Patrick Klein will volunteer on Friday, before joining those supporting his late son with the Timmy Klein Volleyball Tournament in Rockaway on Saturday.

For more information about the weekend and to inquire about volunteer opportunities, reach out to Richie Cannon at 917-577-1173 or Rich Whalen at 718-640-5081.

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