2002-03-09 / Front Page

Thousands Crowd Rockaway Streets To View St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By Howard Schwach

Thousands Crowd Rockaway Streets To View St. Patrick's Day Parade

In what many regard as the biggest and best Rockaway St. Patrick's Day ever, thousands jammed Rockaway streets from Beach 130 Street to St. Rose of Lima Church on Beach 84 Street to watch the latest version of the parade.

Renamed the James Conway Sullivan Memorial Queens St. Patrick's Day Parade in honor of the man who founded the parade 27 years ago, at least 90 units marched the 46 block, two-mile course. The parade took more than an hour and a half to pass any one spot on the parade route.

The parade was well represented by politicians. The city's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, walked the course from the parade's start at Beach 130 Street until Beach 116 Street, when he left for other commitments in Manhattan.

"At least we know where you are this weekend," one parade-goer yelled to the mayor as he passed.

He smiled, kissed a few babies and shook a few hands along the route.

Senator Charles Schumer, Representative Anthony Weiner, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and City Councilman Joseph Addabbo walked the entire route.

Senator Hillary Clinton, who was invited and was expected to attend, did not show up.

Bloomberg addressed the recent tragedies with the press prior to the march.

"We have lost an enormous number of firefighters and police officers. We have had a terrible air tragedy, American Airlines Flight 587 here," Bloomberg said, pointing to the damage on Beach 130 Street. "But this community still soldiers on, that that's what New York is all about."

Some locals agree.

"This parade will bring us together, especially after September 11 and flight 587," one resident supporting a tot on his shoulders told a Wave reporter. "This is certainly a bright spot in a year that has not seen many bright spots for this community."

Not everybody agreed, however. One resident, who lives nearby the start of the parade route, complained that the line of march should not have been nearby where so many died on November 12.

"It was insensitive to the community to bring the parade so near the crash site," that person said.

The parade was preceded by a mass at St. Francis de Sales Church and by an invitation-only breakfast for honorees at the Beach Club on Beach 116 Street.

Attending the meeting were many of the dignitaries who were later honored as parade marshals. In addition, the family of James Conway Sullivan – his mother Rosemary, his sister and his brother, unveiled a banner dedicating the parade to his name. That banner was later used to lead the parade down Rockaway streets.

Also in attendance were a number of Irish firefighters and EMT's, as well as Jim Mulroy, the Mayor of Draghoda, Ireland.

"This was the best parade ever," committee Beverly Baxter said. "It is even better because it honored Jimmy Sullivan. He would have been proud."

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