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N.Y. AND D.C. WAGE WAR OVER WHO THROWS BEST GALA

Long before war broke out in the Persian Gulf, the two rivals regarded each other with contempt, suspicion and jealousy. Now that the war is over, New York and Washington are openly fighting over who's best at celebrating the peace.

New York's June 10 Desert Storm parade is three hours longer, but Washington's is two days earlier. Washington has a Stealth bomber, but New York has 6,000 tons of confetti. They both have Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, but he isn't exactly scarce these days.Even though the two parades will figuratively cover much of the same ground, each city insists its gala will be THE gala.

Hostilities flared after Harry N. Walters, president of the foundation behind the D.C. bash, denigrated the New York event as "a community parade" instead of a parade dedicated to soldiers, and suggested cynical New Yorkers would stay away in bunches.

The animosity spread to the families Grucci and Zambelli, who will do fireworks shows in New York and Washington, respectively. Behaving like the Hatfields and the McCoys, the short-fused pyrotechnicians blasted one another over the quality of their shows.

The "mine's better" brouhaha was capped when the Washington folks brazenly ran a full-page ad in The New York Times inviting folks from these parts to come south for "a day to remember."

New York parade spokesman Eric Andruss noted that the ad, by the Hotel Association of Washington, sounded eerily like - make that exactly the same as - the slogan of the parade up north: "A day to remember that will never be forgotten."

"We can say we're flattered if the imitation was meant as a sincere form of their feelings toward our public service campaign," said Andruss. "But no one does a ticker-tape parade like New York, no one else has the colorful flurry of confetti like New York.

"This is our unique tribute and welcome home."