Every change of season has its rite of passage. In many parts of the city, the emerald green of the Irish beckon the new spring arrival. Although there are many parades to choose from the Staten Island St. Patrick’s parade in the West and New Brighton sections of the rock was a perfect choice to view the celebration. Typically, over 100,000 people attend the parade, however, the overcast day and constant threat of rain kept many away. The estimated 50,000 that did attend were not disappointed. The pre-parade buzz was getting into gear as the lines to get into a local favorites Black Dog Bar and Grill and Jody’s were out the door. Friends and family saw each other along Forest Ave., the parade route, and embraced with smiles and a tap of their “coffee” cups.
Dr. Craig Campbell, the Grand Marshall, summoned all his representatives together just after a blaring siren rang out to start the runners race to the end of the parade route. The traditional sound of the bagpipes announced the parade was set to kick off. The Grand Marshall and the VIPs waved to the applause of the revellers. The honorable Mayor Bloomberg cleverly surrounded himself with the beloved PS 22 Chorus to avoid potential hecklers comments. The last city budget calls for painful cuts that affect many city workers in SI. The sponsors, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, soon followed with each of their divisions. There in the 3rd Division, I spotted Texas Jim, a 25 year SI parade veteran I gave a ride to the start of the parade route earlier. Jim was gracious enough to explain that each of the counties in Ireland is represented in the big parade on 5th Ave. in the city on the 17th. He also corrected my grammar when I innocently referred to the parade as St. Patty’s Day…big mistake. That’s what the British would refer to the event as and it made his hair stand on end. Texas Jim waved to crowd sporting his stylish jacket as he was followed by more bagpipe marchers and local schools and high school marching bands.
A parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band or two and the SI parade was loaded with marching bands. It would be difficult to say which marching band played the best but the edge might go to Mgsr. Farrell slightly over St. Joseph’s by the Sea. The bands were in competitive mode each making their attempt to hit their notes perfectly and march in precision as a unit. A crowd pleaser were the step dancers from Mrs. Rosemary’s Dance Studio. The teenaged girls carried their umbrellas and walked in unison until it was time to perform. The well rehearsed Irish Dance in synchronized steps made the crowd holler with pleasure. Another crowd pleaser was the appearance of Miss New York soon followed by the Basset Hound Club. Businesses all along Forest Ave. were hopping with customers and although there were a few summons issued the crowd was well behaved , family oriented and treated to a fun parade. If the parade was a precusor the Granddaddy of them of all on the 17th, we are all indeed in store for a grand display of Irish pride.