The Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade was back for the first time in two years on Sunday, bringing music, dance, and cheer to the community — be they Irish in heritage or in spirit.
Hosted a week after the holiday and the parades in Manhattan and Park Slope, the Bay Ridge parade has been a South Brooklyn tradition for 27 years, and the March 27 festivities were the first to be held in-person since 2019. The 2020 march, like so many others, was scheduled to take place just as the first wave of the pandemic started in the city, putting the kibosh on the saintly celebration.
Throngs of southern Brooklynites gathered along the parade route to cheer musicians, dancers, Grand Marshall Linda Gallagher-Lomanto, and the parade’s honored grand marshalls — including Brooklyn Paper’s own editor, Meaghan McGoldrick — who had been chosen based on their contributions to the community way back in 2020 and have had to wait for their moment in the March sun for two whole years.
“They never got to march in the parade,” said parade president Denise Frederick. “We didn’t even know if we were going to get permits until only a couple of months ago. Once we got that, we decided they would have their time to march.”
Each year, the parade committee comes up with a list of potential honorees and asks the public if they want to nominate any standouts from the Bay Ridge community, Frederick said, based on their work, volunteer activities, and general Brooklyn spirit.
“There’s so many benefits that go on, people that give their time and don’t ask for money,” she said. “Just people who stand out as somebody who makes Bay Ridge, Bay Ridge.”
Gallagher-Lomato, the Grand Marshall, is a longtime Bay Ridge resident — having graduated from the beloved and now closed Bishop Kearney High School — and a regular fixture at the parade. She started volunteering for the parade in 2003, served on the executive board of the Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Society, and has picked up multiple awards for her work in the city’s Irish communities and organizations.
She finally got her flowers on Sunday among bagpipes and drum beats, and the parade went off “without a hitch,” Frederick said, save for a little unexpected cold and wind.
During the rest of the year, the parade committee hosts events and fundraisers to keep the community engaged and raise money to fund the big event each spring. The organization also raises money for their scholarship fund, established in 2015, which grants merit-based scholarships to a number of local eighth graders planning to attend Catholic high school in the area.
Brooklynites were thrilled to be back along the parade route celebrating their neighbors and St. Paddy’s Day, Frederick said.
“I think everybody was just so happy to be outside and around people, around to celebrate the Irish heritage and what it means to Bay Ridge,” she said.