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What is the origin of Brooklyn Day?

Answer:   Anniversary Day was created by the New York State Legislature in in 1959 in commemoration of the organization of Sunday schools and the Brooklyn Sunday School Union Society.

This was originally connected to Rally Day Parades held by Sunday Schools in Brooklyn, dating back to 1829.

As you can probably imagine, closing the schools for a day was not without some amount of controversy -- especially after Brooklyn became part of New York City. Following consolidation of the City of Brooklyn into New York City, the School Board realized that if they closed the schools for a day, they would lose funding from the City for the day (about $16,000 in 1898). They petitioned the Sunday School Union to move the holiday to a non-school day, but the Sunday School Union refused. There were also many complaints over the years about the holiday being a violation of the separation of Church and State. A 1902 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle argued "why should this day, which is purely a "church" day, interfere with time belonging to a public school? Why must thousands of children stay [home] from school and loaf all day, simply because, perhaps, one-tenth have a church calling them away."

In 1902, the parades were halted because of the loss of funding, but in 1905, the State Legislature created Brooklyn Day as an official holiday, closing the schools in Brooklyn for the day so that children could participate in the parades.

In 1959, at the request of the Queens Federation of Churches, New York State enacted a law that allowed schools in Kings and Queens counties to be closed for the celebration -- that's when "Brooklyn Day" became "Brooklyn-Queens Day".

As of 2006, Brooklyn-Queens Day is a day off for students in ALL New York City public schools; it's scheduled as a teacher's conference day. In 2013, the day off will fall on Thursday, June 6th.

Some years, the holiday falls on the SECOND Thursday in June, because of the wording of the State law, which states that the day off will be on: "the first Thursday in June in each year, except in those years when the first Thursday in June occurs in the same week with Memorial day, and in such years the second Thursday in June

In the 1890's, the Brooklyn parades regularly had 60 to 75,000 marchers. The parades are still held here and there, but now are limited to a hundred to possibly few hundred marchers.

More Info: NY State Consolidated Law, Article 52, Section 2586:
S 2586. Anniversary day as a holiday in the public schools of the borough of Brooklyn and in the borough of Queens, city of New York. The first Thursday in June in each year, except in those years when the first Thursday in June occurs in the same week with Memorial day<, and in such years the second Thursday in June, known as anniversary day, and celebrated in commemoration of the organization of Sunday schools, is hereby made and declared to be a holiday in all the public schools in the borough of Brooklyn and in the borough of Queens, city of New York, and the board of education of such city is hereby authorized and directed to cause all the public schools in such boroughs to be closed on such day.

Brooklyn, New York. Anniversary Day parade of the Sunday school of the
Church of the Good Shepherd, June 1944
Photographer: Howard R. Hollem, Office of War Information

From the American Memory Collection, Library of Congress

A Brooklyn Day Parade in 1944

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