St. Pat’s Parade Set To March
“In a normal year, we have 22 to 28 bands on average,” said Mike Benn, President of the Parade Committee.
This year “a lot more want to participate. A lot more called from out of town,” said Benn, who noted many wanted to make this a special day in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and all the Rockaways had been through.
The parade, which attracts as many as 50,000 viewers, will begin at Beach 129th Street and Newport Avenue. At Beach 116th Street marchers will turn and proceed to Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The parade will continue along the Boulevard and end at Beach 102nd Street. Reviewing stands will be located at Beach 105th Street.
Locals and organizers alike are looking toward a great turnout and a renewed spirit of perseverance and hope at this year’s parade. Said organizers in release to the media, “Even though we have been rocked by Hurricane Sandy, we felt that the community needed an uplifting event that would let people focus on other things than the devastation.”
The Parade Committee extended an invitation to all to “come out and enjoy the parade as we celebrate our faith, heritage and culture as we honor the patron saint of New York and Ireland: St. Patrick.”
Many of the honorees at this year’s parade have a direct connection with Rockaway relief efforts. For instance, the committee notes Grand Marshal Jack Ahern, business manager and trustee of Local Union 30 I.U.O.E., was “very instrumental in (helping) all those affected by Sandy.”
Other honorees include teacher Hilary Beirne, who will be Gael of the Year. Honorary Grand Marshals include NYC Department of Sanitation Superintendant Timothy Fox and Sheila Lynott Hourican, President of the Irish Business Organization and aid worker during the Irish Days of Assistance to the Rockaways.
Deputy Grand Marshals have been selected from all areas of the community. They include Rosemary Gurry, Anne Marie Acosta, Mary Pat Buckley, Martin Ingram, Nelson Toebbe, John Gillespie, Matt Ryan, Keith Purce, Robert Gates, Philip Goldfeder and Michael McCreesh.
Benn added, “If groups are interested in marching, they have until two days before the parade to have a general release form in. We need these due to insurance. They can even e-mail them in.”
Forms are available at www.queenscountyparade.org
The Rockaway parade is organized by the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cultural Committee.
The first official St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City was held in 1766 by Irish military men serving in the American colonies.
Rockaway itself was once known as ‘the Irish Riviera.’