A morning fog was cleared out by the intense sunshine on St. Patrick’s Day as though some divine intervention was clearing the way for what would be a glorious day in NYC. The first parade on 5th Ave. this year would be none other than the granddaddy of them all, the 251st version of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the oldest and grandest parade in our country. The crowd was lined up 6 rows deep waiting to see the start of the parade. Everywhere you looked a sea of green was displayed with pride by the eager crowd. The estimated 2 million people crammed into 5th Ave. were certainly thrilled with all the Irish representation of culture, pride and contribution to the fabric of this grand city. As it has for the last 161 years, the 69th Regiment of the New York National Guard, the original Fighting Irish, led the parade with much fanfare and celebration. This year’s parade was dedicated to the veterans of our armed forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. The lead band came from Cathedral High School in NYC where they led the honorable mayor Bloomberg and Police commissioner Raymond Kelly and this years Grand Marshall, Francis X. Comerford. Then the fun started. One pipe band after another representing their group marched up 5th Ave.
One of the more impressive pipe and drum band was from the NYPD. Soon followed by a living example of compassion and forgiveness in Officer Stephen McDonald being wheeled with his son holding his hand. One of the better marching bands from Dover Union in NY got the crowd more into the festive spirit with a lively tune. Keeping with the military theme, era themed solders marched their way past the watchful crowd as Revolutionary War band players were followed by British Redcoats who were soon chased out by the US Navy…again. One youth band that keeps getting better each year comes from Xaverian HS. A very special part of this years parade was when Lt. Michael Murphy from Patochogue, Long Island was honored along with his friends and family. Because of his heroics in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, he was awarded a Medal of Honor but even more importantly has a new billion dollar Arleigh Burke class destroyer named after him. The destroyer will be commissioned next to the Intrepid Museum on the west side for decades to come as an example of service and heroism.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become an international event with marchers from all over the world arriving to be part of one of the best parades in NYC. The first of many of the Irish county delegates appeared in the United Irish Counties marchers representing each of the country’s counties. Then appeared a bagpipe band from Galicia Spain and making their first appearance was a fun band from Brittany, France. They were a nice treat and I hope to see them again next year. The Brewster Marching Band came in waving their flags to the happy crowd. One of the best crowd pleasers was when the Marine Corps marched in to the appreciative crowd. The Emerald Society FDNY Pipes and Drum band played loud and proud followed by a corp of firefighters. One of the most impressive bands to come back was the Londonderry HS Marching band from New Hampshire. But they were given a run for their money from the band from Chattahoochee HS Marching Band from Georgia. Some of the most enthusiastic marchers were from the National Ambulance Service from Ireland. They kept the crowds energy level high for the rest of the marathon of a parade. The rest of the Ireland county delegates marched up while folks from the crowd cheered them on from their respective counties. It really was a grand spectacle that only New York can pull off and for one day all New Yorkers can be Irish and have a bit of luck and a pint if ya like.