Tag Archives: bagpipes

Sea of Green Floods 5th Avenue for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

18 Mar

Nassau County Pipes and Drum Visit 5th Avenue

          The grand daddy of all New York City parades kicked off at 11am for the well over 1 million visitors flocking to 5th Ave. to celebrate Irish culture and tradition. Since 1762, the parade has been a call for all the Irish to come out and stand tall. The parade route passes right by St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Cardinal Dolan greeted VIPs including NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo and Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. This is one of the grandest parades in the city and the only parade where everyone walks…there are no floats or trucks or cars. Ok there was one horse drawn carriage that carried this years Grand Marshall Loretta Brennan Glucksman.  The excitement for the parade to kick off was building when the mounted police let everyone know things were about to get started.  Since the 1850s, the original “Fighting Irish”, the 69th Regiment of NY National Guard led the parade as a reminder of the contribution the Irish have given to the fabric of the country and the City. Their mascots, a pair of Irish wolfhounds led the way for the 69th and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo


Grand Marshall Loretta Brennan Glucksman


Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar


      The parade is a display of some of the best marching bands in the country and kicking things off were the Virginia Military Institute from Lexington, VA. They had great uniforms but looked a little angry. Guess I would be too if their top ranked basketball team got bounced from the NCAA Basketball tournament in the first round the night before the parade. One group that turned that frown upside down was a familiar group that always gets much love from the NY crowd. The Friends and Family of Detective Steven D McDonald proudly carried a banner with an image of the fallen hero. The Detective passed on last year but his spirit of compassion and forgiveness still lives on. One of the most anticipated bagpipe bands were the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drum Band. They always set the bar high for the rest of the bands to follow. Local counties from the surrounding areas send their pipes and drum bands to get the crowd worked up.


Honoring a Hero


NYPD Emerald Society


Irish and NY Police Unite


     One of the best things about the parade is a bond between the Irish from Ireland and the Irish in the US. The Irish send their Garda Siochana to meet with their counterparts at the NYPD. The Irish Firefighters also send their counterparts to have a pint and show some comradery. The FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drum Band always take the lead for their group and make the City proud. Right behind them were a crowd favorite…the 343 group carrying US flags in honor of the fallen firefighters from 9/11. We Will Never Forget. Banners were carried in honor of two recently fallen firefighters, Raguso and Zanetis, while serving with the Air National Guard near the border of Syria and Iraq.


These Ladies Know How to Enjoy a Parade


We Will Never Forget


Honoring Heroes


     Many counties in Ireland send their representatives to the parade carrying tall banners with the name of their county. The one county that gets a lot of love from the crowd is the Donegal group. The McLaughlins from Brooklyn have been coming to the parade for many years and have a great time especially when they see folks from their county proudly displaying their banner. This year we were all treated to some marching bands from Donegal including the Dungloe Band with their accordions. They had a nice American song tribute. Then a flood of marching bands from the local area and across the country made the parade a grand tribute to the Irish. It’s tough to say which ones were the  best and this year’s judges had a tough time deciding which band was the most outstanding. A few newbies to the parade were the group from Arab, Alabama with their flashing shamrocks and the Clark County HS MB from Missouri were pretty good. They had some stiff competition from Lyman HS MB from Florida, Dobyns-Bennett HS MB from Tennessee and Preble HS MB from Wisconsin. Local perennial favorite, the Highlanders from West Milford, NJ always bring their A game to the parade.



     The parade is being more inclusive as in previous years with banners displayed of Gay and Lesbian groups marching with pride. Heck, if the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, and the NYC Council Chairman, Corey Johnson, both openly gay can march, so can others. All in all, it was a grand parade with a fine display of Irish culture and pride. But of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate without a limerick from Stephanie Porter from Winterport to close out the blog.

 At Geaghans today I’ll be drinkin’,

and all will know what I am thinkin’.

On St. Patrick’s day,

I’ll give a toast and say

Lord, please stop my wallet from shrinkin’.


IMG_1889 (2)IMG_1431IMG_1883IMG_1860IMG_1940IMG_1922IMG_1824IMG_1890 (2)IMG_1848IMG_1900IMG_1490IMG_2211IMG_1472IMG_2201IMG_2013IMG_1596IMG_2252IMG_1792IMG_1908IMG_2287IMG_1615IMG_2225IMG_1750IMG_1437IMG_1496IMG_1446IMG_1815IMG_2138IMG_2110IMG_2082IMG_1479IMG_1531IMG_1577IMG_2171IMG_1515IMG_1640IMG_2103IMG_1720IMG_2239IMG_1771IMG_1524IMG_2234IMG_1518IMG_2047IMG_1582IMG_1528IMG_1674IMG_1654IMG_2157IMG_1603IMG_1591IMG_2072IMG_2043IMG_1968IMG_1572IMG_1735IMG_1451IMG_2006IMG_1457IMG_1638IMG_1669IMG_1557IMG_1782IMG_2245IMG_1648IMG_1665IMG_1678IMG_1650IMG_1893IMG_2266IMG_1724



Millions of Irish Eyes Smiling on 5th Ave.

19 Mar


For the last 254 years, New Yorkers have come out to honor the patron saint of Ireland and New York City and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the oldest and largest parade for Irish culture. Every March 17th, 5th Ave. turns into a sea of green with lots of bagpipes, marching bands, and representatives from Ireland to greet the millions of spectators. This years version of the parade was of a more peaceful theme with former US Senator George Mitchell, the architect of the Northern Ireland peace agreement, as the Grand Marshall.  The mounted police signaled the start of the parade. As usual, the original Fighting Irish 69th Infantry Regiment kicked off the parade in grand style with their lead Irish Wolfhounds and marching band. Even the band looked like they were ready to take down any enemy. Every group stops by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and greets Cardinal Dolan as they march their way up 5th Ave. The first of about 100 pipe and drum bands from all over the Tri-state , Ireland, and even Spain made for some great music. The lead pipes and drum were from Bergen County. They were just getting things warmed up for the millions of spectators that came from all parts of the country to show off their Irish pride and culture. One of the better things to compare is which Emerald Society Band brings out their best…either the FDNY or the NYPD. It’s always a brotherly competition between those two groups. Another great example of fraternal bonding is when the Sligo Sligeach, the Irish police, and the NYPD march together. Mayor De Blasio ended his boycott of the parade as parade officials relented and allowed an LBGT group to march under its own flag. Even though the Mayor did make up for lost time as he marched 3 times…one under his own banner, another time with the FDNY and another time with the Irish Queers group.


For me, one of the best parts of the parade is when Officer McDonald comes out with his family to greet the spectators. He’s a living testament to compassion and love of mankind even when faced with enormous obstacles. The St. Patrick’s Day parade boasts some of the best High School Marching Bands next to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The first of many HS marching bands appeared. Perennial favorites were the Dover Union from NY,  Londonderry HS from New Hampshire and the West Milford NJ HS Marching band. They always do a great job. Some newcomers to the parade included the Northstars from Cicero near Syracuse NY, the North Caroline HS band from Maryland and the Raven Nation from Delaware. It’s tough to say which one made the best impression but the edge goes to the Raven Nation. One of the better parts of the parade is when the international groups from Ireland and Spain marched. Each county of Ireland sends their representatives to the parade. As always Cork made the loudest splash at the parade, even though County Tyrone made a nice impression with their Accordion Marching band. The Spanish group from Galicia and Asturia showed their version of playing bagpipes.


One of the most beloved groups is the 343 group. They carry 343 US flags representing the 343 firefighters that lost their lives on the 9/11 attack in NYC. They always get a loud applause. A related group, the Green Berets, led their group up 5th Ave. They were soon followed by the Suffolk County Pipes and Drum band. Since this parade is the oldest of its kind, there are groups depicting the many wars our nation has faced. Beginning with the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, WW1 and WW2. There were many Jr. Cadet and ROTC bands displaying their sharp uniforms and high energy. If this is any indication of the future of our military strength, we are in good hands. And if this parade was any indication of the upcoming parade season, 2016 is going to be grand year.



%d bloggers like this: