2003-03-01 / Front Page

New Route For St. Pat’s Parade

Webcams Will Broadcast Parade To World

New Route For St. Pat's Parade
Webcams Will Broadcast Parade To World's Computers

Rockaway Beach Boulevard (RBB) is the place to be this Saturday, March 1, as the 28th annual James Conway Sullivan Memorial Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. If you can't make it in person, however, your computer can still take you right to all the action.

Though Newport Avenue has traditionally been the starting point for the parade route, ongoing roadwork forced planners to avoid it this year, according to the parade president Mike Benn.

Instead, the new route begins in front of St. Francis de Sales Church on Beach 129 Street, and continues on RBB to St. Rose of Lima Church on Beach 84 Street, the traditional ending point for the parade.

For the first time in parade history, this year's event will be broadcast via the Internet, Benn said. A single web-cam will be set up at the reviewing stand on Beach 105 Street, and will begin showing the parade as soon as marchers reach that point. Benn said two sites will be used to carry pre-produced programming starting at 1 p.m. and will switch to a live feed from Beach 105 Street: www.Celtic TV.com and www.GaelTV.com Benn recommends a high speed Internet connection for optimal home viewing.

The day's events will begin with a 9 a.m. mass for peace and justice in Ireland at St. Francis, and will feature religious officials from each parish in Rockaway. After mass, Benn said, there will be an invitation only brunch at The Beach Club on Beach 116 Street, between noon and 1 p.m.

The more than 20 marching and bagpipe bands as well as all the other marching units, will line up at the starting point. The national anthem will be sung shortly after 1 p.m. marking the official start of the parade, he said.

In an effort to make sure all parade-goers enjoy themselves, Benn and local police are sharing some information. There will be no parking on RBB along the entire parade route, plus an additional ten blocks between Beach 129 and Beach 139 Streets to allow for set-up, according to 100 Precinct Community Affairs Officer Kenneth Beecher. "We don't want to tow cars," he said.

Benn is reminding participants that consuming alcohol while marching is not allowed. "They can do that in the pubs. The parade is a celebration of culture and heritage in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick," Benn said. He is also urging those who drink elsewhere not to drink and drive. Benn expressed thanks to the officers of the 100 Precinct, for their continued support in making the event safe and fun for Rockaway.

The parade is expected to reach the Beach 84 Street finish by about 4 p.m., and an awards ceremony will be held at St. Rose's until 6 p.m. Several awards will be given out to the best marching groups. Trophies are purchased with money raised prior to the parade, Benn said, and the more money raised, the more trophies can be used to reward the participants that come from areas near and far. Benn suggests trophy donations as a way of honoring a deceased loved one.

As the parade's president for the past three years, and with eight years of direct involvement, Benn says interaction with the community and uniting the various groups involved, is what makes producing the parade worthwhile year to year.

Some of the other expected highlights are the addition of Irish dancing, and elected official sightings. According to Benn, three dancing schools will participate this year. Each will perform twice, at various times, at Beach 105 Street, and later at Beach 84 Street.

Among the invited politicians, according to parade organizers, are New York State Governor George Pataki, City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former mayor Rudolph Giul-iani, Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and a number of those who represent Rock-away.

"On behalf of the entire parade committee I would like to wish everyone a warm Cead Mile Failte (1,000 welcomes) and hope they enjoy Rockaway's grandest day," said parade secretary Beverly Baxter.

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