2014-03-14 / Letters

Parade Must Go On

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to the letter by Thomas Morgan suggesting that the Rockaway St Patrick’s Day Parade should JUST END. The parade was started 38 years ago on March 6th, 1976. I, Dan Tubridy, John McGonicle, Pat McGrath, Timothy Lynch, Felix Twohill and a few more from the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 21 carried the banners and flags down Rockaway Beach Boulevard. James Conway Sullivan, founder and organizer of the parade, led the way behind Pat Kelly’s Irish marching band from Beach 84th Street.

The parade started at St. Francis on Beach 129th Street and ended at St Camillus on Beach 101st Street. Vinny Kirby and John McGonicle and a few more worked all night building a stage for the speakers outside of the church. It was windy and freezing but knowing them, they didn’t deprive themselves of a fair amount of Guinness to warm the cockles of their hearts. You must excuse my weary body and my tired beat up brain from years of old age and hard knocks if my memory is not serving me well, and leaving out a lot of people.

The enormous amount of work it takes to put a parade on the road cannot be explained in a letter to the editor. The committee works day and night for most of the year in one capacity or another. So when you look at the glossy pictures in the newspapers it’s hard to imagine what it took to get them there.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Rockaway has become a major thread in the fabric that makes up our community. It brings joy and laughter to thousands of people. While I cannot compare it to apple pie and America I think I can compare it to New Orleans Mardi Gras where you will see it takes an army of police on horseback, cars, and on foot to control the crowds. As the song says about the youth of today, “Why can’t they be like we were perfect in every way, what’s the matter with kids today?”

There’s an overabundance of energy in today’s youth and that’s a good thing. There aren’t enough youth centers provided for them where they can go to release all that built up energy. If the government would spend more money on the youth they would be spending less on jails thus reducing the crowds of roving energy full youths at events like the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

It’s unfortunate that a youth got stabbed but when you weigh the good against the bad in a 38 year span it’s a pretty darn good record and it deserves three cheers. To ban the St. Patrick’s Day Parade here would be like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Or, as they say in Ireland, it would be like taking a big bucket full of milk from the cow and then letting the cow kick the bucket over.

I, too, live on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and witnessed the hundreds of teenagers going up and down. I have a completely different view of what the teenagers were up to. I saw them having a good time and I didn’t see a single one of them with beer or any kind of drinks. I am hoping to go to the parade next year as I have done for the past 38 years and have a pint or two while I’m at it. So there.

JOHN BAXTER

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