2001-12-08 / Letters

We Lost A Piece of Rockaway

We Lost A Piece of Rockaway

We buried another piece of Rockaway history on December 7. I refer to James Conway Sullivan, the founder of the Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade and Cultural Society. History was one of the things that Jimmy was about.

I am not Irish, but I learned a lot about Ireland and Irish history from Jimmy, and while he was at it, he taught me a lot about my own ethnic history.

If Jimmy read something, it was a part of him for life and he loved retelling the history and singing about it.

He was very young when he came up with the idea for the parade some 27 years ago. He was so young that I cannot imagine how he was able to persuade others to go along with what must have seemed a crazy idea. He transformed this crazy idea into a strong reality in a few short years and l left us with a tradition that involved the entire community and transcended political and religious affiliations and brought us together. It started as a way to honor St. Patrick and for the Irish to remember Ireland. It has become important to
us all and to the city.

I became a part of the St. Patrick's Parade Committee about 9 years ago.
Before that I thought that when you plan a parade you announce a date,
arrange with the police for street closings and on the day of the parade you
show up and everything works fine. I discovered it does not work that way.
The parade takes a year of preparation and for years, almost all of that
preparation was done by Jimmy. It must have consumed a large part of his life. On parade day, after the parade, plans for the next year had to be started. The work to pull it together is huge. It takes the leader and the committee of 50 a lot of time, energy, money and thought.
This year the parade will be on March 2. I will be there. Hopefully, come rain or shine, all of Queens and in particular, Rockaway, will be there. I am sure it will be dedicated to James Conway Sullivan. The parade will be an annual memorial.


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