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Neighbors give Omaha funeral director a parade after he returns from helping in New York

Neighbors give Omaha funeral director a parade after he returns from helping in New York

When Corey Starr saw the parade of cars coming up his North Omaha street Saturday, he started clapping.

After all, the neighbors down the street were having a kids party outside. “Birthday,” he thought? “Let’s celebrate, too.”

But surprise! The parade was for him.

Neighbors wanted to let the Omaha funeral director, who spent two weeks helping funeral homes in the beleaguered Queens area of New York City, know that they were grateful for his service and happy he made it home safely and healthy. New York is the epicenter of U.S. cases and Queens is one of the state’s hot spots. More than 24,000 people have died in New York of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Starr, who lives in the Minne Lusa neighborhood, was tested for COVID-19 after he got home and was cleared.

Starr, 40, is funeral director at Neptune Cremation Service in Ralston, a branch of a Florida-based company that specializes in cremations.

“I have the best neighbors,” he said turning to his wife, Sarah, who had coaxed him outside for the surprise parade.

“I’ll admit, I teared up a bit after everyone left,” he said afterward.

The parade was organized by Phylis Caniglia Andrews, who has lived in the neighborhood for 26 years.

“It’s a fantastic thing that he did, I’m just grateful he decided to do it — and came back safe and sound,” she said, adding that others helped make the parade a success.

The Starrs share a blended family of six kids, and Corey Starr kept in touch via video with his family while he was gone, learning to play computer games with the kids over Zoom.

Neighbor Patty Epstein brought a bouquet of flowers for Starr’s wife, Sarah, because she wanted to thank her, too.

“I wanted to show appreciation that Corey gave of his time, and of his family’s time away from them.”