Tag Archives: St.Patric’ks Day Parade

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

18 Mar
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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.

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NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo

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Grand Marshall Loretta Brennan Glucksman

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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.

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Honoring a Hero

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NYPD Emerald Society

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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.

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These Ladies Know How to Enjoy a Parade

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We Will Never Forget

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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.

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     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’.

 

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Millions of Irish Eyes Smiling on 5th Ave.

19 Mar

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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.

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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.

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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.

ERIN GO BRAGH

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Everyone’s Irish For a Day on St. Patrick’s Day

20 Mar
NYPD Emerald Society

NYPD Emerald Society

The mostly overcast day gave everyone a hint that warmer weather for NYC is finally on the way. As I turned up 5th Ave. around 49th St., the sidewalks were about 10 deep or more anxiously waiting for the parade to kick off. The patron saint of both the City of New York and Ireland, St. Patrick’s devotees come together from the USA and Ireland to celebrate Irish culture, contribution and tradition. This year’s version had a greater international influence than in previous years. Marching bands came from afar as Japan, France, Canada, Chile and Argentina. They were all well received by the more than 1 million revelers that lined up 5th Ave. to see the granddaddy of them all.  The St. Patrick’s Day parade is the oldest parade in the nation celebrating its 254th year. It was great to see people from all nationalities wearing something green in honor of the shamrock and Irish pride and culture. As usual, the mounted police signaled the  start of the parade. It didn’t take much to get the crowd cheering. As a show of force, the parade kicked off with the original fighting Irish; the Army 69th Regiment with their signature pair of Irish Wolfhounds howling to get started. This historic group was the first military personnel to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then, 24 members have been killed defending our freedom and serving our country.This years parade was dedicated to those fallen heroes and their families.

Parade Grand Marshall Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Parade Grand Marshall Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Officer McDonald

Officer McDonald

Protesters have their say

Protesters have their say

A parade this large could not go on without some controversy. Mayor DeBlasio refused to march in the parade because parade organizers would allow only one gay and lesbian groups to march; Out@NBCUniversal.  It’s a step in the right direction but not enough and protester made their point along the parade route near 56th St. Parade Grand Marshall Cardinal Timothy Dolan, from the Archdiocese of New York, got the crowd worked up. He’s beloved by the millions of Catholics living in the Tri-state area. Getting a nice reception from the crowd was Officer McDonald, a living symbol of love and forgiveness. One of the more impressive pipe and drums band was from the NYPD Emerald Society. They really got the crowd worked up. An annual favorite is the sleek Dover HS Marching Band. Representatives from all the Armed Forces sent their bands to play and march but the Navy band surged ahead of the others.

Osaka Orchestral Band

Osaka Orchestral Band

Band from Brittany, France

Band from Brittany, France

A Happy Reveler

A Happy Reveler

Groups from all the counties in Ireland made their way up the parade route. They were wishing all the revelers a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. More fun came when bands from all parts of the world marched and played some really good music. The award-winning band from Osaka, Japan was really having a good time and worked the crowd. The band from Brittany, France played their own kind of bagpipes and performed a traditional dance. They were a definite crowd pleaser. The wind started kicking up in just what appeared to be an appropriate moment. The FDNY group of 343 marched to the applaud of the crowd. This group reminds everyone of the 343 firefighters that gave the ultimate sacrifice on the Sept. 11 attacks. The firefighters carrying the flags had to use some force to keep the flags from falling backwards because of the wind gusts. When the 343 flags marched passed me, people were yelling “we will never forget” and there were even a few USA chants heard. That chant brought me back to Game 3 of the 2001 World Series in the Old Yankee Stadium. My friend Nelson and I drove 5 hours from a contingency site in New Hampshire to be part of the Fall Classic and yell out loud USA..USA..USA after President Bush threw a strike to catcher Jorge Posada. Chills ran up and down my spine in probably one of the best moments ever in Yankee Stadium. Yes. We will never forget.

343 FDNY group honoring our heroes

343 FDNY group honoring our heroes

Derry County Representatives

Derry County Representatives

US Navy Marching Band

US Navy Marching Band

All the parochial high schools in the tri-state area get to march in the parade with the band from Londonderry Ct. being one of the crowd favorites. Looks as though parade organizers are trying to compete with Macy’s Thanksgiving parade for the most out-of-town marching bands to perform. Bands came in from Utah, Kansas, California but the most notable were from Roane HS Tennessee and Hoover HS from Alabama. The kids had a great time and it was probably their first time in the Big Apple for many of them. Some of best dressed pipe and drum bands had to be ones from the Police Emerald Society of Westchester with their snazzy yellow tartans. One of the best sounding pipe and drums band had to be the Suffolk County Pipes and Drum band.

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If this is a precursor to the parade lineup for this year, New Yorkers and tourists will have a fantastic time. The parade was energetic and full of cheer and good will. I was really glad to be Irish for just one day.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2015

The Emerald Isle Shines on 5th Ave.

20 Mar

    

     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.

Emerald Eyes Shine in Staten Island

10 Mar

    

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.

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